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Giorgio Napolitano elected Italian president
Latest Updated by 2006-05-11 09:07:14
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Giorgio Napolitano, an Italian life Senator, was elected as Italy's 11th postwar president on Wednesday (May 10), becoming the first former Communist to win the position.

The 80-year-old senator won 543 votes, well above the minimum 505-vote mark, during the fourth round by more than 1,000 voters.

The center-left president-elect is to succeed President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, 85, whose seven-year mandate expires on May 18.

Napolitano, a former interior minister and House speaker, is the second-oldest president to take office after Sandro Pertini, who was elected in 1978 at the age of 82.

The first three rounds of voting had failed, in which a two-thirds majority was required to decide the winner.

Italy's outgoing premier Silvio Berlusconi refused to give his backing for Napolitano, arguing that his past as a member of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) made him an "unacceptable" candidate.

Berlusconi raised the same objection to the center left's first candidate, the former premier and chairman of the Democratic Left party Massimo D'Alema.

The Democratic Left, of which Napolitano is also a member, is the largest party in Premier-elect Romano Prodi's coalition and the main heir to the PCI.

The Italian head of state is elected in a joint session by deputies, senators and representatives of Italy's 20 regions, by a total of 1,010 voters.

Under the Constitution, the first three ballots require a two-thirds majority for a winner to emerge. If the voting produces no result, the rules relax to a straight majority from the fourth ballot on.

The electors began voting on Monday for the new president and the previous three rounds went without a decision. By contrast, outgoing President Ciampi was elected on the first ballot.

Profile: Giorgio Napolitano, Italy's new president

Giorgio Napolitano, an Italian life Senator, was elected Italy's 11th postwar president in the fourth round of voting becoming the first former Communist to fill the country's highest institutional post.

The 80-year-old senator was elected with the support of the center-left coalition led by Premier-elect Romano Prodi, with 543 votes, easily passing the minimum 505-vote mark.

Napolitano is a member of the Democratic Left, the largest party in Prodi's coalition. He will succeed the outgoing President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, 85, whose seven-year mandate expires on May 18.

Napolitano, a former interior minister and the House speaker, is the second-oldest president to take office after Sandro Pertini who was 82 when he was elected in 1978.

Napolitano, a pragmatic moderate with social democratic leanings, was a high-profile member of the former Italian Communist Party (PCI).

He was a champion of the party's transformation into the Democratic Party of the Left (subsequently the Democratic Left) in February 1991.

Napolitano was born in Naples on June 29, 1925, and studied law at Naples University.

In 1942, he joined an anti-Fascist underground organization and after the end of the second World War, he entered the PCI.

He returned to university and was active in student politics before being elected to parliament for the first time in 1953, at the age of 28.

He quickly became a key organizer as a member of the party's National Committee, and was one of the most influential leaders ofits reformist wing.

Napolitano worked tirelessly to bring the PCI into the family of European social democracy and anchor it to the western world.

At a PCI congress in 1986, Napolitano made a speech in which he described the PCI as "an integral part of the European Left."

In the early 1990s, Napolitano took on a new role as the head of international relations for the PCI and subsequently as the shadow foreign minister for the Democratic Party of the Left.

In 1992, he was elected speaker of the House.

Four years later, he became the interior minister in Romano Prodi's first center-left government which was brought down late in 1998.

In October last year, he was made a life senator by President Ciampi.

Although the coalition of the outgoing Premier Silvio Berlusconi refused to vote for him because he was Prodi's candidate, many Berlusconi supporters praised the life senator's political record and character.

Editor: Yan

By: Source: China View website
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