Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, the 87-year-old head of state, admonished the fractious lawmakers who brought him back for a second term and pledged to break the country’s political impasse.
Napolitano’s re-election on April 20 “represented the result of a long series of omissions and mistakes, of closures and irresponsibility” by politicians, the president said today in a speech to parliament after taking the oath of office for his new term. “We can no longer, in any way, shirk the responsibility of proposing practical solutions and timely decisions for reforms that are immediately needed for the survival and progress of Italian democracy and society.”
Napolitano is getting a second chance to play broker and come up with a majority in a parliament divided by the inconclusive Feb. 24-25 elections. He will seek to forge a compromise on the successor to caretaker Prime Minister Mario Monti, and if the parties don’t comply, Napolitano said he will take action.
“If I find myself confronted with the deafness I encountered in the past, I won’t hesitate to put the consequences before the country,” Napolitano said.
The re-appointment restores full powers to Napolitano. By Italian law, presidents in the final months of their mandates are stripped of the ability to dissolve parliament and call new elections. That power may help Napolitano coerce lawmakers who, during a first round of negotiations in March, resisted compromise.
Napolitano may begin meeting with political leaders tomorrow. He must resolve a deadlock in the Senate where two of the top three forces must agree to work together.
The parliamentary vote to re-elect Napolitano may indicate the path to a new government as the rival forces of the Democratic Party and Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Liberty came together to support the head of state. A deal between those groups, Parliament’s top two forces, would yield a majority in the upper house.
Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement, the third-biggest party, has shunned cooperation and opposed Napolitano’s re-election.
The new government must re-write the electoral law to make it easier for a single force to capture a parliamentary majority, Napolitano said in his speech, reiterating a priority of his that he has pushed on parliament since last year.
“The missed opportunities to reform the electoral law of 2005 are unforgivable,” Napolitano said.
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