Prodi and Letta neck and neck for presidency, bookies say

D'Alema, Marini and Grasso also in the running

Prodi and Letta neck and neck for presidency, bookies say

(ANSA) – Rome, April 3 – Ex centre-left premier Romano Prodi and long-time advisor to Silvio Berlusconi Gianni Letta are running almost neck and neck in the 'race' for election to Italy's highest office, foreign bookmakers said on Wednesday. Parliament is due to convene in a joint session to choose the country's next president of the republic from April 18, ahead of the end of the seven-year term of incumbent Giorgio Napolitano on May 15. Bet2875 put the odds of Prodi becoming president at 1.65 against 1.85 for his centre-right 'rival' Letta. Other names considered by the bookie were ex centre-left premier Massimo d'Alema at 2.00, former Senate Speaker Franco Marini at 2.45 and current Senate Speaker Pietro Grasso at 6.00. Constitutional lawyer Stefano Rodota' came in at 6.50, former House Speaker Luciano Violante at 7.00, veteran Radical politician and former foreign trade minister Emma Bonino at 7.30 and ex-premier Giuliano Amato at 8.00. The election of the president of the republic is at the centre of the political debate and though the office should ideally go to someone with broad cross-party support the three leading forces - Pier Luigi Bersani's Democratic Party (PD), Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party and Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement - are currently sticking to mutually incompatible stances. Voting will be by the 945 members of the two houses of parliament plus regional representatives, making a total of 1007. ßßß A two-thirds majority is needed for the first three votes, and then a simple majority. photo: Prodi and Letta in 2005

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