Italian Parliament Fails to Reach Agreement on New President

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The Italian parliament failed to elect a president in its first day of voting, according to reports by Euronews and other media outlets. No clear front-runner emerged after two rounds of voting, meaning that legislators will have to resume negotiations on Friday.

A new president must be elected before May 15, when the term of current President Giorgio Napolitano expires. It is expected that the process to replace Napolitano will require a fourth round of voting on Saturday as well, and may continue past that point if the political stalemate continues.

Here is some of the key information to emerge on Thursday after the first round of voting by the Italian parliament.

* The process to elect a president is initially split into three votes. In the first two rounds, a candidate must receive two-thirds of the total vote in order to be elected president. From the third round onward, a simple majority will elect a new president.

* Both members of Parliament and regional delegates get to vote on who will be selected to the office.

* The only person on Thursday to come close to garnering the required two-thirds vote was former Senate President Franco Marini, the candidate put forward by the center-left political parties. Marini got 520 votes in the first round. With a total voting body of 1007 legislators and regional delegates involved in the process, Marini would have had to get 672 votes to move on to the second round.

* As noted by Reuters, Marini was the candidate of choice for the leader of the Democratic Party, Pier Luigi Bersani. Bersani had tapped the 80-year old Marini as a compromise with former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his People of Freedom Party.

* The mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, was among those who were vocal in their lack of support for Marini. Renzi told the media ahead of the first vote on Thursday that Marini was "a candidate from the last century" and objected to his being nominated merely to appease Berlusconi, according to Reuters.

* The office of the president is largely a ceremonial position, although Italy's constitution does grant that person some potentially influential powers, including the ability to dissolve Parliament and to call elections. The president can also tap candidates to form new governments.

* The Associated Press and other media outlets reported on Thursday that after the first round of mostly blank votes, the candidate of the 5-Star Movement, Stefano Rodota, received the most votes in the second round.

* The 5-Star Movement is headed by comedian Beppe Grillo, and along with the People of Freedom Party and the Democratic Party, has emerged as a key player in the presidential negotiations, after surprising analysts with the strength of their showing in the February elections.

* Italy's new president will be looked to to provide political unity as the country establishes a new government.

Vanessa Evans is a musician, traveler, and freelance writer with an interest in European studies and events.

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