Italian lawmakers fail to elect new president in 2nd vote


Italian lawmakers failed for a second day in a row to elect a new president, as the cross-party deal needed to break the stalemate remained elusive.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi is the most high-profile contender for the post, but lesser-known political figures, such as former parliamentary speaker Pier Ferdinando Casini, are also in the mix.

The election, often compared to a papal conclave because it is just as unpredictable and rife with intrigue, is in the hands of just over 1,000 national and regional lawmakers, who vote daily via secret ballots.

On Tuesday, they cast 527 blank ballots, far less than the previous day’s 672.

Voting is widely expected to go on at least until the fourth round on Thursday, when the winning majority will drop from two-thirds to just over 50%.

Right-wing parties presented a trio of candidates on Tuesday -- former Milan mayor and Education Minister Letizia Moratti, ex-Senate speaker Marcello Pera and retired magistrate Carlo Nordio.

Center-left parties, however, declined to support any of the nominees.

Democratic Party leader Enrico Letta called for marathon talks to break the impasse.

"We should lock ourselves in a room with bread and water, and throw away the key until we find the solution," he said.