Italian lawmakers again fail to elect president

Italian lawmakers on Saturday again failed to elect a new president for the country in their fifth round of voting, with the largest share of ballots left blank in a stalling tactic by parties.

No candidate won a majority of votes in the joint session of parliament, with the highest number -- 210 ballots -- going to Stefano Rodota, a respected academic and human rights advocate.

A majority of 504 is required to get elected.

A second round of voting will be held in parliament later on Saturday starting at 1330 GMT.

Rodota's candidacy has been put forward by the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which has called on the other parties to vote for him.

Two candidates proposed by the centre-left -- former trade unionist Franco Marini and former European Commission president Romano Prodi -- failed to get elected in voting on Thursday and Friday and have withdrawn their candidacies.