Italy’s newly re-elected President Giorgio Napolitano has called on the country’s divided political parties to work together to end the stalemate created by February’s general election.
“I strongly hope that in the next few weeks, starting in the next few days, all sides will fulfil their duties, with the aim of strengthening the institutions of the state,” he said in a brief address at his offices in the Quirinale Palace.
“We must all consider, as I have tried to in these hours, the difficult situation in the country and the problems of Italy and Italians, as well as the image and international role of our country.”
The 87-year-old was elected for a second term after a last minute deal among party chiefs to break the deadlock after five previous ballots failed to produce a winner.
He had the support of all major parties except the 5-Star Movement, and comfortably won a majority.
Protesters outside the parliament building in Rome, rallied against the push for Mr Napolitano’s re-election.
Many of them were supporters of 5-Star Movement leader Beppe Grillo, who denounced Mr Napolitano’s re-appointment as a “coup d’etat.”
Addressing the protesters, 5-star movement politician Alessandro Dibattista said: “It’s no longer important who you vote for. You are honest citizens, just like us, and all of us have been taken on a ride by the parties who have united for their own good to support Berlusconi.”
The election of the Italian president is seen as an important first step as the eurozone’s third largest economy tries to break its political deadlock.
Already one of the world’s oldest heads of state, it is thought to be unlikely that Napolitano will serve the full seven-year term. It is believed he will stand down soon after a government is formed.