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Italy elects parliament speakers

Updated: 2013-03-17 04:37
( Xinhua)

ROME - Italy's new parliament on Saturday elected the speakers of the Chamber of Deputies and of the Senate, ending a two-day session on its second official day as the country's legislative body.

At the fourth round of voting for each of the equally powerful houses, lawmakers elected the two speakers both belonging to the center-left coalition, the most voted in last month's national elections.

In Italy, the speakers of the Chamber of Deputies and of the Senate are the highest positions after the president of the Republic.

Laura Boldrini, 52, of Left, Ecology and Freedom party (SEL), the main ally of the Democratic Party (PD), became the speaker of the 630-member lower house.

A former journalist for Rai state television with a law degree, Boldrini has worked for 24 years in various United Nation (UN) organizations including the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) of which she was a spokesman from 1998 to 2012.

In her inaugural speech, she expressed high hope for "renewal" of the Italian scandal-plagued political world. "We will make of this House the home of good politics," Boldrini stressed, adding that Italy can contribute to building "the great dream" of the European Union.

The newly-elected president of the 315-member Senate was anti-mafia prosecutor Pietro Grasso, 68, who entered parliament in the ranks of PD.

For 43 years, Grasso has tracked down strings of mobsters and coordinated investigations into the murders of Italy's top two anti-mafia magistrates in the 1990s.

In both the votes, the most part of lawmakers of the Five-Star Movement (M5S), a grassroots movement born on the Internet to oppose old politics, cast empty ballots reiterating their refusal to support traditional parties.

"We will not be the crutch of anyone," said the M5S's leader in the Senate, Vito Crimi, in line with the movement's closure over the past days to any attempt to reach an agreement over a coalition government.

The M5S has brought to parliament 163 inexperienced lawmakers who exhibit their honesty as a point of pride, gaining a decisive role in preventing the center-left from solidifying a majority.

After appointing the speakers, the parliament's first task will be paving the way for President Giorgio Napolitano, whose seven-year mandate expires in May, to start formal consultations on Wednesday for forming a government.

Debate was high over possible alliances between the political forces. But though a parliamentary leadership has been decided, the risk was high that any executive that takes power will be unstable, according to local observers.

An early return to vote was also an alternative that is likely to deepen uncertainty and stoke fears within the international community that Europe's third largest economy may not be able to address its economic and social crisis.

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