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New president still elusive in Italy

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By The Associated Press
Friday, April 19, 2013, 9:45 p.m.
 

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 necessary votes.

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, is the center-left's latest choice to be Italy's next head of state, replacing President Giorgio Napolitano, whose seven-year term expires in May.

Berlusconi bitterly opposed the bid to tap Prodi, a onetime archrival who had defeated him twice for the premiership. The president's duties include tapping someone to try forming 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 latest fourth round of balloting, Prodi — a former European Union commission president — garnered 395 votes, far short of the 504 simple majority needed.

A fifth round of voting was scheduled for Saturday.

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