Giorgio Napolitano was re-elected as Italy's president Saturday in a sixth round of voting in Parliament, after leaders of the country's main parties urged him to run again to help resolve a burgeoning political crisis.
The 87-year-old Napolitano, who becomes the first Italian president to be elected for a second seven-year term, obtained 738 votes, far more than the required 504.
Citing his age, Napolitano had said repeatedly that he could not continue at his post. He had been due to step down on May 15.
But parties on Italy's left and right urged him to run after former Senate leader Franco Marini and Romano Prodi, erstwhile Italian prime minister and ex-president of the European Commission, failed to secure the required number of votes in recent days.
Pier Luigi Bersani resigned Friday as leader of the deeply divided Democratic Party - which won the February elections by a margin insufficient to form a working majority in Parliament and seat a government - after his candidates, Marini and Prodi, failed to secure the required number of votes.
Bersani, as well as Silvio Berlusconi, leader of the center-right People of Freedom party; and caretaker Prime Minister Mario Monti and members of his Civic Choice party, all urged Napolitano to run in hopes he could preside over the creation of a broad coalition government in the wake of the inconclusive elections.
In the end, Napolitano was persuaded to submit his candidacy, saying he could not let down Italy, where the political stalemate has compounded a deep economic crisis in the euro zone's third-largest economy.
But the leader of the anti-austerity and anti-establishment Five-Star Movement, comedian Beppe Grillo, slammed Napolitano's re-election as a "coup" and pledged to lead a protest outside the lower house of Parliament, where the voting took place. EFE