23 Apr 2013

Italian politicians told to do better

3:38 pm on 23 April 2013

President Giorgio Napolitano of Italy has scolded the politicians who re-elected him, saying he only agreed to stay in the position because of the political crisis.

Italy still has no government, eight weeks after a tight election resulted in a hung parliament.

Mr Napolitano, 87, was sworn in on Monday for a second term, after the parties failed to find a replacement.

He said that deadlock must not continue, urging political parties to reach a deal on a new government "without delay".

The BBC reports Mr Napolitano had been hoping to retire at the end of his first term, but was begged to stay on by squabbling party leaders who could not settle on a mutually-acceptable candidate.

"I could not decline, I was worried about the fate of the country," he told parliament on Monday, to loud applause.

He thanked MPs for their backing, but went on to accuse them of being "deaf" to Italians' call for change and implied that he might step down if the parties did not implement much-needed reforms.

Mr Napolitano accused them of allowing progress that had been achieved under the government of Mario Monti to wither.

The BBC reports he was particularly critical of their failure to enact changes to an electoral law which is widely seen as flawed.

The election left three parties nearly evenly balanced. But animosity between them has made attempts to build a coalition futile.