ROME, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Italian President Giorgio Napolitano resigned and retired Wednesday, about five years ahead of his term expiration.
Napolitano, 89, was president for a record nine-years, but poor health led to his resignation. His term would have expired in 2022.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi now has the difficult task of finding a successor. Renzi may hold elections if he doesn't receive support for a replacement.
The role of president in Italy is seen as ceremonial, but with important aspects.
Napolitano was Italy's president through five unstable governments, two general elections and the longest recession since World War II. He was celebrated by some for dismissing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in 2011 during the country's sovereign debt crisis.