An 80 year old, white, male, former trade union leader whose prosecution for corruption during the 1990s was halted only by a refusal of the parliamentary commission of the day to lift his parliamentary immunity has been nominated by the Democratic Party leadership politburo as the candidate agreed between Bersani and Silvio Berlusconi for the office of Head of State in Italy.
Angels assume this proposal is a means of discovering just how bad is the collapse of discipline within the Democratic Party and between the Party's coalition members. Unfortunately the patent inappropriateness of the nomination has shattered the loyalty even of those who were hanging in there with the Bersani leadership through thick (and thick is the word for him and them) and thin (and there are even fewer of them now). A cornered Bersani has made this the vote of confidence in his leadership without regard to the cost it imposes on the country. "I have matters of my own to deal with," he is reported as saying. A triumphant Berlusconi has heaped mealy-mouthed praise upon the candidature he has forced upon Bersani. So far the only thing he hasn't praised Franco Marini for is that he too is a victim of 'politicized justice'.
The Democratic Party's principal ally - Solidarity, Ecology, Liberty - is voting for the candidate of the Five Stars. Chosen after on-line primaries, Stefano Rodota' is a jurist of outstanding competence and a noted defender of civil liberties - though he too is white, male and eighty years old. Originally we had chosen a fearlessly investigative, female journalist in her fifties but she refused the nomination, saying despite the honour her skills were not those needed in the Presidency - an honesty and self-awareness that only confirmed what a great woman she is. So the Five Stars went with the jurist who came in third; second, a wholly estimable surgeon working in theatres of war to help victims of minefields and drone-strikes, asked too that the nomination go to Rodota' as the better qualified for the role of president.
The Mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, who leads the sane wing of the Democratic Party has called the Bersani politburo's nomination an insult to the country. Voting starts in Parliament at 10am.
Franco Marini is now unable to achieve two thirds of the vote at the first count.
The People of Liberty party are calling for a change of tactics by Berlusconi.
The Lega Nord agreed to vote for Marini only on the first ballot.
Almost certainly other blocs of votes for Marini, such as the Monti Civic List will start to fragment at the second ballot, which also requires a two thirds majority.
As the dirty details of the stitch-up between Berlusconi and Bersani emerge the Democratic Party is breaking up.
Further UPDATE after the second ballot.
No-one elected. Marini now abandoned although he has not withdrawn his candidature.
The coalition Berlusconi/Bersani/Monti vote blank ballots. The expectation is the same tactic will be used at the next ballot then, when a simple majority suffices, a new candidate will be wheeled out.
The Democratic Party has split in two.
Cold loathing seems to be the order of the day.