The Italian parliament will try again on Friday to elect a new president following Thursday’s spectacular crash by the candidate of the centre-left and centre-right, Franco Marini.
He looked the man most likely to win after overnight horse-trading seemed to ensure he would be backed by Silvio Berlusconi’s PdL and the Democratic Party.
However, he failed to win a two-thirds majority after a revolt by many of the centre-left PD party members who swung behind the Five Star-backed candidate Stefano Rodota.
Marini is too centrist and too Catholic for many on the Italian left to stomach, and there is widespread distrust that elements of the PD are willing to get into bed with Berlusconi’s PdL, now led by Angelino Alfano.
With the PD now split, supporters of Florence mayor Matteo Renzi backed Rodota, and in the second ballot Marini’s PdL and PD supporters did not vote to spare him further embarrassment.
There will be one more attempt to get a two-thirds majority on Friday, but failing that a simple majority in a fourth vote will do.
PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani stayed close to Alfano at the end of voting on Thursday and the two men will do all they can to impose their choice; but it is an unnatural alliance for protesters outside, a “fatal embrace” as one placard said, and many are horrified the centre-left is even considering such a compromise candidate.