Sergio Mattarella was greeted with warm applause ahead of his swearing in as the new Italian President. The election of the 73-year-old is seen as victory for Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
Born into a Sicilian family the President started out on a political career after his brother was shot dead by the mafia.
“The fight against the mafia and corruption are absolute priorities. Corruption has reached a level which is not acceptable. It uses up resources which could be used for our people,” he said.
His call to arms against corruption was endorsed by the lawmakers from Italy’s two chambers. He called for Europe to address the problem of migrants arriving on Europe’s shores.
“Wars, attacks, political, ethical and religious persecutions, miseries and famines generate huge masses of refugees. It is a serious and painful humanitarian catastrophe which is now an urgent priority. Europe must show more attention to this problem, must engage with it and show solidarity.”
Sergio Mattarella’s wide ranging speech was warmly received and included several standing ovations. The president will serve a seven year term though he has little power except in cases of a political crisis.