Longest serving head of state Giorgio Napolitano of Italy resigns

Rome -Italian President Giorgio Napolitano resigned on Wednesday. The longest-serving head of state, formally resigns due to his age and health.

"President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano signed his resignation letter this morning at 10:35 (0935 GMT)," the presidential office said in a statement.

Mr Napalitano played a key role in steering the Italian political scene since 2011, when Italy was almost pushed to the center of the eurozone crisis amid spiraling borrowing costs and prolonged political instability.

An expanded parliamentary session will start to vote on Mr. Napolitano's successor within the next 15 days.

A few names of possible candidates have emerged in the Italian press in recent weeks, including former prime ministers Giuliano Amato and Romano Prodi. The latter, however, had already suffered a failure in the 2013 presidential election due to last-minute defections among Democratic Party voters, making his candidacy unlikely.

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