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10 million tune in to Italian president's year-end address

Ratings up despite calls to boycott

02 January, 11:34
10 million tune in to Italian president's year-end address (ANSA) - Rome, January 2 - Nearly 10 million Italians tuned in to watch President Giorgio Napolitano's year-end address on Tuesday, up 2.8% despite a boycott campaign from anti-government parties, ratings data showed Thursday. Tuesday marked Napolitano's eighth such speech, a record for an Italian president after his reluctant return to office, after completing his seven-year term in April last year, in order to help forge the left-right coalition government of Premier Enrico Letta and break a two-month political stalemate.

In his speech he urged Italians not to loose hope after emerging from the country's worst postwar recession. Opposition parties including three-time premier Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia, the regionalist Northern League and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) had all called to boycott the televised address. Loudest among them was M5S leader Beppe Grillo, who staged his own online address that aired simultaneously, in which he repeated his call for Napolitano to step down for alleged illegitimacy as president.