ROME - Italy's Parliament has elected Giorgio Napolitano as the nation's president to an unprecedented second term after party leaders persuaded the aging head of state to serve again in hopes of easing political gridlock that is delaying the formation of a new government.
The 87-year-old Napolitano easily surpassed the simple majority required to be elected Saturday afternoon. It took Parliament three days of balloting to choose a president, reflecting the legislature's deep polarization following inconclusive nationwide elections in February.
Napolitano, a former Communist, is expected to immediately start sounding out parties to see who they might support for premier. The next government faces pressure to bring urgently needed economic and electoral reforms to the recession-mired Eurozone nation plagued by political volatility. Italy has had a caretaker government for months.