Italian President Giorgio Napolitano scolds politicians

Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano at his swearing in 22/4/2013 Napolitano's re-election was unprecedented in Italian politics

Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano has chided the politicians who re-elected him, saying he only agreed to it because of a deep political crisis.

He accused them of an "unforgivable" failure to enact reforms.

Mr Napolitano, 87, was speaking as he became the first Italian president to be sworn in for a second term, after parties failed to find a replacement.

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

Start Quote

I could not decline, I was worried about the fate of the country”

End Quote President Giorgio Napolitano

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

At times his voice cracked with emotion as he delivered his impassioned speech, says the BBC's Alan Johnston in Rome.

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 he implied that he might step down if the parties did not implement much-needed reforms.

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

He was particularly critical of the failure to enact changes to an electoral law which is widely seen as flawed.

Mutual animosity

Mr Napolitano called on the party leaders to reach agreement on a broad coalition, saying that was the only option open in the current circumstances.

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

The centre-left has a majority in the lower house but not in the Senate, which it also needs in order to govern.

Its leader, Pier Luigi Bersani, was so damaged by the horse-trading over earlier presidential candidates that he said he would resign.

He has rejected any suggestion of a coalition with the centre-right of his ideological enemy Silvio Berlusconi; but his overtures to the Five-Star protest movement led by Beppe Grillo have been firmly rebuffed.

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