di Mario Primerano
Brussels, April 23 - The United States is "very happy" that Giorgio Napolitano has been re-elected Italian president to usher in a new government after two months of post-election stalemate, Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday. "We are very happy," Kerry told journalists about Napolitano, the first president to be re-elected. "I'm enthusiastic, he's an extraordinary leader," he said. Napolitano is expected to grant a fresh government-formation mandate late Friday after reading the riot act to parties during his second inaugural address to parliament Monday, scolding them for failing to form a government to pass much-needed reforms. The 87-year-old Naples-born Napolitano became Italy's first ex-Communist president when he was elected as the country's 11th head of State in 2006. At first his election was met with skepticism from the centre right, but his measured, balanced style and incisive action in periods of crisis earned him the respect of politicians of all stripes, and increasing acclaim outside Italy too. He won international praise for the way he used his limited powers to good effect to help give life to outgoing Premier Mario Monti's emergency government of unelected technocrats in November 2011 after Silvio Berlusconi was forced to resign as prime minister because of the country's financial crisis. Napolitano's early transatlantic ties were forged during his years as the once-powerful Italian Communist Party's (PCI) leading moderate, when he pushed an increasingly pro-US and pro-European line. In 1978 Napolitano became the first PCI representative to receive a visa to the United States, where he toured the country's most prestigious universities and won a sympathetic hearing also by virtue of his excellent English. He later became the shadow foreign minister of the PCI and its post-communist heir the Left Democrat Party. In 1943 his English was already good enough for him to act as an interpreter when Allied forces entered Naples.