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The 1,007 MPs and regional delegates will start voting today to elect the new president of the Italian Republic.

The Democratic Party (PD), People of Freedom Party (PDL) and Prime Minister Mario Monti’s Civic Choice (Scelta Civica) have agreed on a common candidate: Franco Marini, 80, a former leader of the CISL, the main catholic trade union, who failed to be re-elected as a PD candidate during February 24-25 election. In theory the three parties have the numbers to get Marini elected in the first round.

However, many in the PD will instead vote for 80-year-old constitutional law expert Stefano Rodotà – the candidate chosen by the Five Star Movement of comic-turned-blogger Beppe Grillo.