Vatican City, March 13: Cardinals on Wednesday prepared for a second day of the conclave to elect a pope. All eyes will be set on a chimney which will signal when the name of the new leader for the globe's 1.2 billion Catholics is confirmed.
The 115 cardinals held the first vote in the Sistine Chapel on Tuesday but it proved to be inconclusive. They have assembled to find the successor of Benedict XVI, who abruptly resigned last month.
On Tuesday, black smoke billowed into the air above the Vatican to suggest that no one had got a two-third majority required to become the 266th Roman pope. The world will be looking forward to white smoke, produced by mixing the smoke from burning ballots with special flares, to learn that a new head of the Roman Catholic Church has been chosen.
Italy's Angelo Scola, Brazil's Odilo Scherer and Canada's Marc Ouellet, all conservatives like the last pope, are the favourites to get the crown but there is no clear frontrunner. It is also difficult to predict the outcome of the conclave which is a secret affair.
Experts believe that Benedict's sudden resignation, the first pope to do so in 700 years, could make the cardinals take an unusual decision and any person, not thought of initially, could emerge into a possible successor to Benedict.
Tens of thousands of people attached with the Catholic Church across the world are eagerly waiting for the results. The fact that the church has been plagued by issues of scandals, indifference and conflict, has made the wait all the more nervous.
Observers believe that someone with a good experience of the inner functioning of the Vatican bureaucracy, the Roman Curia, will be best-placed to get the institution rid of taints.
Modern day conclaves are generally not long affairs. Benedict's election in 2005 took just two days to be completed.