Caretaker government and fresh elections, says Italian President

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Rome, May 7 (IANS/AKI) Italian lawmakers must accept a caretaker government that will administer a revote, Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella said on Monday after his last-ditch talks with political leaders failed to broker a deal on a viable government.

The cabinet of centre-left Premier Paolo Gentiloni cannot continue in office “as it represents a parliamentary majority that no longer exists.

“I belive it is better to move towards fresh elections under a caretaker government,” he said.

Mattarella ruled out a snap vote in June, saying there was not enough time to organise one. But he did not rule out July polls, which the leaders of Italy’s populist Five-Star Movement and the far-right League party are now urging.

“An election could be held at the height of summer, but until now this has been avoided as it is a difficult time for Italians to vote, but a date could be set in the autumn,” Mattarella said.

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Five-Star leader Luigi Di Maio and League leader Matteo Salvini said on Monday a new national ballot should be held on July 8 – a demand that one of the centre-left Democratic Party’s founders, lawmaker Ettore Rosato, slammed as “arrogant”.

Five Star is the largest party and the League is the dominant party in the centre-right alliance – the biggest parliamentary bloc – after the inconclusive March 4 vote in which populist, rightwing parties made strong gains.

The Democratic Party’s centre-left coalition, which has ruled Italy since 2013, came a distant third in the March vote and declined to take the Five-Star Movement into government during previous failed talks.

Mattarella on Monday held final talks with the conservative coalition – including Forza Italia, the far-right League party and the rightwing Brothers of Italy party – as well as with the Five-Star Movement, the Democratic Party and other Italian parties.

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He wrapped up consultations with a meeting with the lower house of parliament Speaker Roberto Fico and with Senate speaker Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati, according to a schedule published on the presidential palace website.

Successive rounds of talks held by Mattarella, Fico and Casellati with Italy’s main political forces since the March poll collapsed amid increasingly fractious stalemate and a mesh of seemingly irreconcilable demands.

However, Forza Italia party and its coalition allies oppose a caretaker cabinet and want to try and muster a parliamentary majority, party sources told AKI after their talks with Mattarella.

Mattarella is seeking to end two months of increasingly fractious political deadlock amid a web of apparently irreconcilable political demands after the March vote led to a hung parliament and several earlier rounds of talks collapsed.

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