In Catholic theology, as in the popular imagination, the closed-door conclave to elect a new pope is supposed to be guided by the Holy Spirit.
There’s no horse-trading or lobbying, no insider deal-making or outside influences allowed. Just red-robed cardinals solemnly entering the Sistine Chapel, accompanied only by prayers and their consciences, sitting beneath Michelangelo’s fresco of the Last Judgment and discerning God’s will on who should be the next successor to St. Peter.
At least that’s the theory. The last millennium has shown that papal elections can be fraught with politics or worse, and can take months or even years of wrangling to reach a resolution.