Following weeks of speculation, 89-year-old Napolitano told Italy’s diplomatic corps that he would soon leave the presidential palace.
“The end of this year, 2014, and the imminent conclusion of my presidential mandate, inevitably brings reflections on the complex and troubled period that Italy, Europe and the world are going through,” he was quoted in Ansa as saying.
While early reports said he may resign on December 31st, Napolitano is now expected to officially announce his departure in mid-January. MPs then have a 15-day deadline to meet with regional deputies and agree on a new president.
The president also took the opportunity to praise Matteo Renzi’s government, describing its “brave effort” to introduce reforms and rid Italy of old rules which “have slowed down the country’s development”.
Napolitano reluctantly agreed to a second term as president in April 2013, after lawmakers failed to agree on a replacement.
His re-election saw the swift appointment of Enrico Letta as premier, after two months of political deadlock following inconclusive national elections. Letta was subsequently ousted by fellow Democratic Party (PD) politician Renzi in February, who leads Italy’s coalition government.