Italy's parliament failed to elect a state president in its second vote on Thursday, with most members of both the centre-left and centre-right blocs appearing to have cast blank ballots.
With the count still continuing it was already clear that no candidate could reach the required 672 votes for a two-thirds majority of the 1007 parliamentarians and regional representatives.
Centre-left candidate Franco Marini fell well short of the required majority in the first round of voting.
A third vote will be held on Friday morning, also requiring a two-thirds majority. Starting from the fourth vote a simple majority would be sufficient for a candidate to be elected.