The Italian Almanac

Milena Gabanelli

Hail to the Chief

The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement said Tuesday that it wants TV presenter and investigative reporter Milena Gabanelli to be its candidate to be Italy's next president after an online vote by members.

"When people think you are up to such a big job, then you can only be honoured because it is highly gratifying," Gabanelli, whose Report show on state broadcaster Rai highlights cases of alleged corruption and waste of public money, said. "Now I can only say that I'm extremely moved and also overrated," she added, without indicating whether she would accept being the M5S's presidential candidate.

Gabanelli came top of an online vote that just under 50,000 M5S members registered before the end of 2012 were eligible to take part in. She prevailed over eight other candidates, including former centre-left premier Romano Prodi, former European commissioner Emma Bonino and Nobel Literature Laureate Dario Fo, who had made it onto a shortlist in a separate vote last week. War-zone doctor Gino Strada, the founder of the Emergency medical aid NGO, came second and institutional lawyer Stefano Rodota' was third.

The members of the two Houses of Italy's parliament and representatives of the nation's regional governments will start voting to select a successor to President Giorgio Napolitano and Grillo's movement holds the balance of power in parliament after last inconclusive election and it has refused to enable the established parties to create a new government, saying they have created a corrupt, malfunctioning system.

A two-thirds majority is needed in the first three ballots to elect a new president, after which a simple majority is enough.