Giorgio Napolitano has taken the oath of office as Italy's president, pledging to serve all Italians, not just the majority.
The inauguration of the 80-year-old former Communist is expected to open the way for center-left leader Romano Prodi to form the next government.
Italy's lawmakers elected Mr. Napolitano to a seven-year term as president last week with the support of Mr. Prodi's center-left coalition. He won in the fourth round of parliamentary voting, despite stiff opposition from center-right politicians loyal to outgoing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Mr. Napolitano is expected to ask Mr. Prodi to form a government. The center-left leader won a narrow victory in general elections early last month.
Mr. Prodi then would face the challenge of forming a united Cabinet, following weeks of bickering by his coalition partners over top government jobs.Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.