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Vote for Italian president gives Renzi chance to unify party, while irking some allies


ROME — Italian lawmakers are voting again to elect the country's next president.

Premier Matteo Renzi has urged his oft-divisive Democrats and government allies to unify behind his pick, Constitutional Court justice Sergio Mattarella, in Saturday's balloting.

After two days of inconclusive balloting, the threshold for election dropped from a two-thirds majority to a simple majority.

With center-left political roots, Mattarella was touted as someone now above the political fray, in keeping with the traditional profile of a head of state. As a minister, Mattarella raised largely ignored concerns about conflict of interest when media mogul Silvio Berlusconi jumped into politics in the 1990s. Berlusconi's forces said they wouldn't vote for him.

Some allies chafed at Renzi's imposition of a pick, but eventually agreed to vote for Mattarella.

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