Bersani wound up pleading with Napolitano to serve an unprecedented second term as head of state to help squabbling politicians get down to the business of giving Italy a new government.

Meanwhile, Italian media carried details of the latest corruption scandal to sully the nation's political class.

In the southern region of Basilicata, the governor resigned after a probe exposed abuses and fraud in expense accounts by local officials, including one who submitted reimbursement claims for dinner in restaurants in three different cities on the same day.

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