Despite the lack of an official confirmation, the Italian press is unanimous in the announcement that President Giorgio Napolitano will step down between December 2014 and January 2015.
The main reason behind the decision is probably that the President is 89. Mr Napolitano is the only Italian President serving more than one term.
Politically, however, Mr Napolitano’s move strengthens Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, since Mr Berlusconi is anxious to agree with him the election of a moderate Chief of State from whom he still hopes to get a pardon.
Otherwise Mr Renzi could press for the election of former Prime Minister and President of the European Commission Romano Prodi, a choice much feared by Mr Berlusconi and which could get the support of the Five Stars Movement.