Italian president vows to stand firm

ITALIAN President Giorgio Napolitano yesterday ruled out standing down from his post to make way for new parliamentary elections.

His statement came after the failure of attempts to form a government this past week, saying he would stay in place until the very end of his mandate in May.

Earlier, all of Italy’s main newspapers had stated that Napolitano, whose term ends on 15 May, was considering stepping down to get around constitutional provisions which prevent a president dissolving parliament and calling elections in the final months of his mandate.

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But Napolitano, 87, said yesterday he would continue his efforts to break the deadlock which formed ­after last month’s elections left no single group with enough power to govern.

“I will continue until the last day of my mandate to do as my sense of national responsibility suggests, without hiding from the country the difficulties that I am still facing,” he said at his official residence, the Quirinale Palace in Rome.

He said he would ask two small groups of experts to formulate proposals for institutional and economic reforms that could be supported by all political ­parties.

Napolitano met leaders of the main parties on ­Friday to try to find a way out of the stalemate, which has raised fears of prolonged uncertainty in the Eurozone’s third-largest economy.

However, with all of the three main groups clinging to entrenched positions that have prevented a majority being formed in parliament, hopes of a solution that would avoid a new snap election have faded.

Centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani, whose party controls the lower house but does not have a majority in the Senate, failed to win enough support to form a government from any of the other parties during a week of talks.