"We are faced with the most important choice of the next seven years. Does it seem normal to you to see the sort of games we have witnessed in the last four days?" said former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. "I find it scandalous."

Italy’s parliament failed to elect a new president on Thursday for a fourth day running, with the main political blocs floundering in their efforts to find a mutually acceptable candidate for the powerful role, Reuters reports from Rome.

Neither the centre-right nor centre-left put forward any names for Thursday’s ballot after various parties had shot down a raft of possible contenders, opening the way for intense, behind-the-scenes haggling in the hours ahead.

“We are faced with the most important choice of the next seven years. Does it seem normal to you to see the sort of games we have witnessed in the last four days?” said former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. “I find it scandalous.”

Prime Minister Mario Draghi remains a contender for the job, but his prospects have faded this week, with many lawmakers clearly reluctant to back him, partly because they fear any change to the government could trigger an early election.

Unlike in the United States or France, where presidents get elected in a popular vote, in Italy, some 1,009 parliamentarians and regional representatives pick the head of state in a secret ballot, which party leaders sometimes struggle to control.

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