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The Boston Globe

World

After 4 ballots, no new Italy president

ROME — Italy’s polarized Parliament failed in a second day of balloting Friday to elect a president, as the high-profile candidacy of ex-Premier Romano Prodi fell far short of the votes needed. The rebuff deepened the political paralysis gripping the eurozone’s third-largest economy.

Prodi, the only politician to defeat media mogul Silvio Berlusconi for the premier’s office, was the center-left’s choice to be Italy’s next head of state, replacing President Giorgio Napolitano, whose seven-year term expires next month.

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Berlusconi bitterly opposed the bid to tap Prodi, a onetime archrival who had defeated him twice for the premiership. The president’s duties include selecting someone to try to form Italy’s next government and end two months of political gridlock. Berlusconi ordered his forces to boycott the vote Friday afternoon, and they did.

In the fourth round of balloting, Prodi garnered 395 votes, far short of the 504 simple majority needed. In theory, it should have been easier for Parliament to elect a president, because the previous three rounds of voting had required a two-thirds majority.

A fifth round of voting was scheduled for Saturday.

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