Italian President Sergio Mattarella sworn in for a second term

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Italian President Sergio Mattarella has been sworn into office to serve a second seven-year term.

The 80-year-old agreed to remain as head of state after Italian political parties failed to agree on a successor.

Mattarella received 55 rounds of applause from parliament on Thursday, as he spoke about his sense of responsibility during the COVID-19 pandemic and Italy’s struggling economy.

“The parliament and regional representatives made their decision,” Mattarella said. “For me, it is a new, unexpected call to responsibility that I cannot and don’t expect to escape.”

Mattarella is the second president to accept another term after Giorgio Napolitano, who agreed to stay on after a similar political stalemate, before eventually leaving office in 2015 when he was nearly 90.

The Italian President’s role is largely ceremonial, but can also require institutional knowledge and the ability to negotiate to avoid political crises.

With Mattarella remaining in office, the current government of Prime Minister Mario Draghi is expected to finish its mandate, which expires next year.

The president called for unity on Thursday, stating Italian citizens would have been “jeopardised by a prolonged state of political uncertainty and tensions.”

Mattarella — a former lawyer — was initially reluctant to accept a second term, but the divided parties in Draghi’s coalition government were unable to agree on a common alternative presidential candidate.

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The 80-year-old was an Italian MP for 25 years and served as a government minister on five occasions.

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