With a heavily polarized Parliament unable so far to agree on a new president for Italy, 87-year-old President Giorgio Napolitano has agreed to pleading from political leaders to be a candidate for a second term and quickly end an impasse which has thwarted efforts to form a government in the recession-mired country.

Napolitano, citing his advanced age, had repeatedly refused to be a candidate for a second seven-year term. But he said in a statement after lobbying from the leaders "cannot help but take on the responsibility toward the nation." Whether he will win in the latest round of balloting set for later Saturday in Parliament will depend on whether political leaders can persuade their squabbling parties to close ranks behind the decision to back Napolitano.