According to the Italian Constitution, the election must be held in the form of secret ballot, with the Senators, the Deputies and 58 regional representatives allowed to cast their votes. When the 1999 election was held, the Senate counted 322 members and the Chamber of Deputies counted 630 members; the electors were in total 1010. The election is held in the Palazzo Montecitorio, home of the Chamber of Deputies, with the capacity of the building being expanded for the purpose. The first three ballots require a two-thirds majority of the voters in order to elect a President. The election is conducted by the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, who has the authority to proceed to the public counting of the votes. The presidential mandate lasts seven years.
On May 13, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, was elected on the first ballot with 707 votes. His term officially started with a swearing-in ceremony held on May 18.
Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema initially proposed Carlo Azeglio Ciampi as government's official candidate, in an attempt to reach an agreement with the House of Freedoms, whose votes would have been necessary to have a successful election at the first ballot; however, the centre-right opposition declared it intend to vote for Ciampi.
The voting operations resulted in the election of Carlo Azeglio Ciampi as President of the Italian Republic.