Berlusconi, head of the People of Freedom Party, said Friday that PD leaders had "gone back on their word," the Italian news agency ANSA reported. The PD switched to former Prime Minister Romano Prodi, who has also served as president of the European Commission, when Marini failed to win the presidency in the first two ballots Thursday.
Successful candidates in the first three ballots must win a two-thirds majority of the electors, who include members of the Senate, the Chamber of Deputies and 58 regional representatives. After the third round, candidates need only to win a majority.
Marini, 80, a member of the Catholic wing of the center-left PD, had the backing of People of Freedom and the centrist Civic Choice party, but many members of the PD rejected his candidacy.
The Italian president has little power. The post's functions include serving as head of state and ensuing the Italian constitution is not violated.