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«Dear fellow citizens,

one year ago, addressing you for this occasion, I said that the previous seven years had been challenging and complex.

The same goes for the year that has just gone by, seen as it featured a number of relevant political and institutional events.

The election of the President of the Republic, which unexpectedly committed me to a second term, as decided by the Parliament and by the delegates of Regional Governments.

The early dissolution of Parliament and the general election, held for the first time in autumn.

The clear outcome of the elections provided for a quick formation of the new cabinet, with a woman at its helm for the first time.

This is a novelty that has great social and cultural significance. Our country had long been ready for it and now it has happened.

In the space of a few years almost all the political parties represented in Parliament have taken part in the government, through different parliamentary coalitions.

Given the events, all of them - in different moments - had to experience, first hand, the difficulties of governing.

Acknowledging complexities, taking on the responsibility of making choices, facing the limits imposed by a reality increasingly characterised by global phenomena: from the pandemic to the war, from the energy crisis to the food crisis, from climate change to migration.

The practicality of reality thus called upon everyone to fulfil their duties.

It urges all sides to duly focus on urgent problems that require solutions.

Our democracy has therefore, once again, proven to be a mature, accomplished democracy, since all sides have gathered experience in terms of representing and governing a great country.

This awareness - while respecting the dialectics between majority and opposition - leads us to hold a common vision of our democratic system, to comply with rules that cannot be ignored and to honour the role we play in the political life of the Republic.

This truly embodies the spirit of our Constitution.

Tomorrow, 1 January, will mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of its coming into force.

The Constitution is still our compass. Abiding by it is our primary duty; that goes for me as well.

We are waiting to welcome the new year, yet even in this very moment our thoughts cannot overlook the war that is staining our Continent with blood.

2022 was the year of the senseless war unleashed by the Russian Federation. Italy, Europeand the West responded by fully supporting the attacked country and the Ukrainian people, who are bravely defending their freedom and rights.

2022 was the year that marked the beginning of the war. Now, in 2023, we must strive to put an end to hostilities, silence the guns and halt the inhuman trail of blood, death and suffering.

Peace is an essential part of the European identity. Ever since the conflict broke out, Europe has been looking for ways to achieve peace while ensuring justice and freedom.

Pope Francis has constantly been calling for peace. I send him, with great affection, a grateful greeting, expressing Italy’s heartfelt condolences for the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

The loss of so many human lives and the daily destruction of houses, hospitals, schools and theatres - which turns cities and towns into piles of rubble - cause great sadness. Hugeamounts of financial resources are allocated to armaments and weapons; such resources could be put to much better use if they were allocated to fight hunger, diseases or poverty in the world.

The aggressor is entirely accountable for this further, serious damage – not those who defend themselves, nor those who help them do so.

Think about it: if the aggression were successful, more would follow, triggering other wars, whose boundaries are unpredictable.

We will not settle for this kind of present.

This cannot be the future.

The hope for peace also rejects a vision that turns back the hands of time; it rejects an outdated and irrational obscurantism. Hope is chiefly underpinned by the strength of freedom. By the will of affirming the civilisation of rights.

This is something that has taken root in the hearts of women and men. Even more so in the younger generations.

It is to be seen in the young and brave people of Iran. In the Afghan women who fight for their freedom. In the Russian youths who say no to the war and defy the repression.

The recent years have been tough. What we have experienced has either caused or worsened social tension, rifts, poverty.

Covid – which unfortunately has not been totally vanquished – has taught us some valuable lessons.

We have realised that science, civil institutions and concrete solidarity are precious resources of a community: the more they integrate and support one another, the more they will be effective and generate trust and responsibility in people.

We must work to bolster the national health system – an irreplaceable asset that guards the country’s unity – always putting people and their concrete needs at the centre of the area they live in.

I am perfectly aware that many Italians have been tackling the past months with great concern: inflation, energy costs, problems for many households and businesses, the rise in poverty and needs.

The lack of work takes away rights and dignity. The price we pay in terms of unemployment and precariousness is still too high.

What is particularly alarming is the troubled situation of many youths. Juvenile poverty has increased fourfold since the global crisis broke out in 2008.

Social, economic, organisational and healthcare-related differences between the several regions of our country – between north and south, in the lesser islands, in the inland areas – cause injustice and undermine the right to equality.

Once again, the Constitution is our beacon, for it states that the Republic must remove all economic and social obstacles that are detrimental to the people’s rights and their fulfilment. With no distinctions.

We are the Republic. All of us, united.

The State and its components, the Regions, the Municipalities, the Provinces. The institutions, the Government, the Parliament. The women and men who work for public administration offices. Intermediate bodies, associations. The energy of the tertiary sector, the generosity of voluntary work.

The Republic – our Homeland – consists of women and men who are committed to their families.

The Republic is to be seen in the sense of civic duty of those who pay taxes, for that makes Italy work, thus serving the common good.

The Republic is to be seen in the sacrifice of those who, donning a uniform, risk their lives to ensure the security of all, both in Italy and in the many international missions.

The Republic is to be seen in the toil of those who work and in the concern of those looking for a job. In the commitment of those who study. In the spirt of solidarity of those who care for others. In the initiative of those who set up an enterprise and create jobs.

Removing obstacles is to be a shared effort, which requires common purpose, cohesion and moral resolve.

All this has allowed Italy to resist and obtain promising results.

The remarkable economic growth we enjoyed in 2021 and 2022 proves we have been capable of reacting to the crisis triggered by the pandemic.

Our businesses, at all levels, have been able to get going again, as soon as it was actually possible, with great momentum. They were strong enough to react and, often, to renew themselves.

Exports of our products held up – actually, they have increased.

Italy has swiftly become, once again, the destination of thousands of people from all over the world. The beauty of our venues and nature is, again, formidably attractive.

Our hopes are therefore fostered by concrete facts, but we need a wide-ranging view, we need to look to the future.

Just think of the new technologies, the extraordinary results achieved by scientific research and medicine; think of the new frontiers of outer space, of deep-sea exploration. These scenarios were unimaginable a few years back, but now they stand right before us.

Global challenges. That’s the key.

Because modernity itself – with its constant change – is global.

It is in this somewhat unprecedented scenario that we gauge the value and topicality of our strategic choices: Europe, the western choice, our alliances. Our foremost responsibility in the area we call the ‘enlarged Mediterranean’. Our privileged relations with Africa.

We must operate in the present, not in the past, with intelligence and passion.

To do so we need to change the standpoint from which we interpret reality. We must learn to read the present through the eyes of tomorrow.

We are mistaken and deluded if we think we can reject change and renounce modernity. Change is to be guided, innovation is to be interpreted, in order to better our living standards. But it cannot be taken out of the picture.

The challenge is actually that of designing the future with courage.

Saving the planet, thus securing our future – the future of mankind – means, above all, to concretely address the issue of the energy transition.

Energy is what allows our societies to live and advance. The complex work required to shift from traditional, polluting sources (harmful to our health and to the environment) to renewable energies is the new frontier of our economic systems.

It is not by chance that on such issues, in particular when it comes to affirming a new ecological culture, many youths mobilise and get involved.

Another change we are experiencing, whose extent we probably still find hard to fully realise, is the digital transformation.

The use of digital technologies has already modified our lives, our habits and, probably, our way of thinking and experiencing interpersonal relations. The younger generations are already fully immersed in this new dimension.

The quantity, quality and speed of data are factors that can serve the growth of people and communities. They make it possible to overcome backwardness and bridge gaps, simplifying the lives of citizens and modernising our society.

Appropriate choices must be made, promoting a digital culture that ensures the citizens’ freedom.

The third major investment that looks to the future involves schools, universities and scientific research. That’s where the key players of the future receive their education. That’s where we educate and train the girls and boys who will have to face the complexity of those global phenomena that require adequate skills, which currently we do not always provide.

The National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) is leading Italy towards these goals. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity.

We owe it to our youths, to their future.

Speaking about youths, I would like – for a moment – to turn directly to them:

the tragedy of the many road traffic victims affects us all.

Too many youths are killed at night in car accidents, caused by speeding, carelessness, alcohol and drug use.

When you are driving, your life – and other people’s lives – are in your hands. Don’t let a moment of recklessness destroy them.

Don’t delete your future.

Dear fellow citizens,

let’s look to the future from a new standpoint. Let’s look to the future through the eyes of our youths. Let’s look at their faces, let’s pick up their hopes. And let’s make them our hopes.

Let us make sure that the future of the younger generations is not just what is left of the present, but the result of our diligent exercise of conscience. This does not mean we can claim to choose on their behalf, or that we can shape their path.

The Republic is based on the participation of all.

This is the very meaning of liberty, ensured by our democracy.

This is, above all else, the reason why we must have faith.

Best wishes!»

Quirinale Palace , 31/12/2022 (II mandato)