Italian President to ‘reflect’ over weekend on way out of political deadlock

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Rome, April 20 (IANS/AKI) Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella will spend the weekend pondering how to form a government after several rounds of talks this month failed to end the political stalemate since the inconclusive March 4 national election, sources said on Friday.

The decision came after Senate Speaker Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati on Friday reported back to him, admitting failure after two days of unsuccessful talks which she mediated with the country’s two largest political forces – the populist Five-Star Movement and the centre-right alliance.

“Over the last few days I performed the mandate entrusted to me with dedication, trying to favour constructive dialogue between the political parties capable of producing a parliamentary majority.

“Our discussions, despite differences of opinion, threw up topics for reflection among the political forces,” Casellati said, adding: “Mattarella will be able to identify the best way forward.”

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Mattarella is expected to announce on Monday how he intends to form a government, according to the sources.

The President on Wednesday gave Casellati 48 hours for exploratory talks on a coalition government between Five-Star and the centre-right after he held two rounds of fruitless talks this month with Italy’s political leaders.

At the end of the talks mediated by Casellati, Five-Star’s leader Luigi Di Maio had announced a German-style “contract” of government with the far-right League party led by Matteo Salvini was “possible”.

But Di Maio ruled out a coalition government with the League’s two alliance partners, the conservative Forza Italia party of ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi and the rightwing Brothers of Italy party, led by Giorgia Meloni, although he said he would not be “hostile” to external support from these two parties.

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The main stumbling block to ending the political deadlock has been Di Maio’s refusal to govern with Berlusconi, who has a tax fraud conviction and is on trial for bribery, and the Five-Star leader’s insistence that he must be Premier.

Five-Star emerged as Italy’s biggest parliamentary party after the March ballot while the centre-right bloc led by far-right League party leader Matteo Salvini has the most parliamentary seats.

Five-Star and the League made strong gains in the last month’s election, although no party or bloc won an outright majority.

The Democratic Party has the numbers in parliament to play kingmaker in a coalition government but has vowed to go into opposition after the centre-left alliance came third in the poll.

–IANS/AKI

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