And so it begins. Back in Italy, the Left has comprehensively disrupted the Right’s systems by folding Massimo D’Alema’s candidacy (German link) and producing a surprise candidate, the 81-year old Democratic Leftie Giorgio Napolitano. The effect has been to split the Right coalition, with ex-cause cÃ©lÃ©bre Rocco Buttiglione annoucing that his neo-Christian Democrats will back Napolitano, the Northern League announcing they will oppose him, whilst Forza Italia and the ex-fascists hold their peace – perhaps for lack of a decision on what to do.
Fascinatingly, as yesterday blogged, part of the problem is managing the vote so the Democratic Left’s honour is maintained. Apparently, if it looks like Napolitano won’t make it, the Left will spoil their ballots rather than submit him to a defeat. However, the split on the Right raises another possibility: in the first three rounds of voting, a two-thirds supermajority is needed to elect a president, but if there is no agreement by then, in the fourth round only a simple majority, 504 votes, is needed. It might pay to keep the Left vote down for three rounds, then plunge for the 50%+1..
Update, 1700BST: The voting has begun. Unione candidates are apparently going to cast a blank ballot in the first round. Are they pursuing the AFOE strategy?