Mercoledì, 17 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Re-elected president Napolitano faces tough challenge

English
© ANSA

(By Paul Virgo)
Rome, April 20 - President Giorgio Napolitano
became Italy's first head of state to be re-elected on Saturday
after he agreed to stand in the sixth presidential ballot in a
bid to end political chaos.
Five previous ballots failed to elect a successor to the
87-year-old because rifts within the centre-left Democratic
Party (PD), the biggest group in parliament, saw two of its own
candidates scuppered.
The chaos-hit PD was joined by earlier on Saturday by
ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party and
outgoing Premier Mario Monte's Civic Choice party in asking for
Napolitano to stand again.
The PdL's regionalist ally, the Northern League, voted for
Napolitano too and he prevailed with a big majority, winning the
votes of 738 of the 1,007 so-called 'grand electors',
Napolitano, a former member of Italy's Communist party
whose first seven-year term was due to end next month, had
repeatedly ruled out staying on in the past.
The deadlock over the head of state was threatening to
further complicate efforts to end the political impasse
recession-hit Italy has endured since February's inconclusive
general election. The president has a key role in orchestrating
efforts to form a new government in a hung parliament.
Napolitano said he faced a "difficult challenge at a
crucial moment" after being re-elected.
He also called on "everyone to honour their duties" to
"reinforce the (country's) political institutions".
He now must get back to working on ending the impasse and
see which parties are willing to form a government on the basis
of a programme he asked to be drafted by a group of experts.
Napolitano said he would give more details about how he
intends to set about this on Monday.
The president will face a stiff challenge in brokering
solutions to create a new government, given the rifts within the
PD, which led the alliance that came first in February but
failed to win a working majority in the Senate.
The party is set for a leadership contest as Secretary Pier
Luigi Bersani said Friday he would quit "one minute" after the
presidential election after rebels in his own party sank the
candidates he proposed to Upper and Lower House lawmakers and
representatives of Italy's regions.
On Friday around 100 of the centre left's 'grand electors'
failed to vote for ex-premier Romano Prodi in the fourth
presidential ballot.
Bersani presented Prodi's name in an attempt to regain PD
unity after many in the party on Thursday did not vote for the
previous candidate he had proposed, former Senate Speaker Franco
Marini.
The outgoing PD chief was already under fire for his
handling of the post-election impasse.
Italy still has no government as Bersani failed in a bid to
reach out to the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), which
holds the balance of power in the Senate.
He refused to consider forming a broad coalition government
with the PdL, while at the same time rejecting calls for another
vote, saying that this would be equally inconclusive under the
current election law.
Bersani's exit could make way for the PD's Florence Mayor
Matteo Renzi, a telegenic 38-year-old who has been compared to
the young Tony Blair and came second in the centre-left's
premier-candidate primary in December.
Renzi, whose loyalists led the rebellion against Marini, is
currently the country's most popular politician, according to
opinion polls, but he is viewed with suspicion by many in the
PD.
M5S leader Beppe Grillo called Napolitano's re-election a
coup and called on "millions" of Italians to join him in a
protest in Rome.
But he then announced he would not be in the capital in
time to lead the protest on Saturday.
M5S candidate Rodota' also had the support of the left-wing
SEL, which was allied with the PD in February's election.

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