Giorgio Napolitano has been elected president of Italy for a second term, Euronews.com informs. Napolitano was due to stand down on May 15, but the failure of parliament to elect his successor after five attempts prompted party leaders to hold last-minute meetings with the 87-year-old to persuade him to stand again. President Napolitano will now play a vital role in forming a new government for Italy after inconclusive results in the February election.On Saturday, Napolitano became the first president in Italian history to secure a second seven-year term, the BBC reports. He easily won the simple majority of votes out of 1,007 electors. Napolitano put forward his candidacy after the appeal by main party leaders – both on the left and right. “I consider it necessary to offer my availability,” said Napolitano, who had been due to step down on 15 May. “I cannot shun my responsibility towards the nation,” he added. Italian politics is gridlock at a time of recession, high unemployment and falling living standards.
The prospect of the eurozone’s third largest economy operating without either an elected government or head of state would have further fueld insecurity. And in a brief address shortly after the vote, Napolitano acknowledged that the situation in the country remained “difficult”. “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 added. Italian party leaders earlier urged parliament to “show unity” in re-electing widely-respected Napolitano. Outside the parliament building in Rome, protesters held a rally against the push for Napolitano’s re-election.