Italian president takes oath of office

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Italian president takes oath of office

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Italy’s new president has been sworn in. Georgio Napolitano has become the country’s first ex-communist head of state.The 80-year-old senator took over from Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, who has finished his seven-year mandate.

Napolitano took his oath of office in parliament in Rome, in the presence of members of the lower and upper house. He was chosen because of his lengthy experience and his reputation as a pragmatic political fixer. In his inaugural speech, he said: “Our politics must be based on mutual respect and tolerance, on listening to each other’s views, on dignified confrontation in parliament and in other institutions, and an emphasis on issues of common concern where we can search for agreement in the general interest.” By Wednesday Napolitano is expected to ask prime-minister-elect Romano Prodi to form a government. Prodi’s slim majority puts added pressure on keeping his diverse centre-left coalition together.