Stalemate snags Italy presidential vote

Italian politicians have failed to elect a new president in a first round of voting as the incoming centre-left governing coalition and its opponents could not agree on a candidate.

    Berlusconi said he would vote for his closest political aide

    In a secret ballot of 1,010 parliamentarians and regional representatives, no one secured the two-thirds majority required in the first three ballots to elect Italy's president, provisional results showed.

    A second and if necessary third round will be held on Tuesday. By the fourth ballot, which would be held on Wednesday, a simple majority would be sufficient.

    Silvio Berlusconi, the outgoing prime minister refused to support Romano Prodi's candidate. Prodi, the incoming prime minister, who cannot take office until a president is elected, had proposed Giorgio Napolitano, 80, as a compromise after Berlusconi said he would not accept a more high-profile left-wing politician.
       
    The electors began voting at 4.25pm (1425 GMT) to choose a successor to President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, whose seven-year term expires this month.
       
    Sortly before the vote, Berlusconi said his centre-right bloc would vote for his closest political aide, Gianni Letta.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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