Talks aimed at resolving Italy's political stalemate failed to break the deadlock and a new round of consultations will be held next week, President Sergio Mattarella said on Thursday.
The head of state, who is tasked with overcoming the government impasse, met all the main party leaders over the past two days of consultations to hear their suggestions on how to respond to last month's inconclusive national election.
"According to the rules of our democracy, it is necessary that there be some accords between different political forces to form a coalition," Mattarella said, as reported by Reuters.
"During these two days of consultations, this condition has not yet emerged," he told reporters, adding: "I'll let a few days of reflection pass also because of the need for more time that many political forces asked for during the consultations."
Anti-establishment and far-right leaders stood firm Thursday in a battle for the upper hand after talks with the president on who can lead a new Italian government fell flat.
Five Star Movement (M5S) leader Luigi Di Maio called on right-wing leader Matteo Salvini to ditch coalition partner Silvio Berlusconi, and "change Italy" with the M5S.
Di Maio's M5S, Italy's largest single party after picking up just under 33 percent of the vote in last month's election, is staunchly opposed to working with the 81-year-old media magnate and wants to break up the right-wing coalition that garnered 37 percent of votes at the polls.
"I don't recognize the right-wing coalition. They had three different prime ministerial candidates and three different programs," said Di Maio to reporters after meeting President Sergio Mattarella on Thursday afternoon, AFP reported. "They also have completely different ideas, such as on working with the M5S."
Any deal between the right and the M5S hinges on former prime minister Berlusconi, who is a fierce rival of Di Maio and a long-time target of barbs from M5S founder Beppe Grillo.
Earlier on Thursday Berlusconi said that his Forza Italia party was "not ready to form a government in which the politics of envy, social hatred, pauperism and judicial witch-hunts prevail", in a dig at the M5S. Berlusconi is firmly against some of the M5S's flagship policies, such as the proposal for a basic income which would extend to nine million people. However earlier on Thursday Salvini reiterated his loyalty to his coalition, saying he wanted to bring a "solid" right-wing group to government.
Should Salvini break from Berlusconi and sign what Di Maio called a German-style "government contract", he would likely be forced to play second fiddle to Di Maio as the weaker coalition partner. Di Maio also appealed to the up to now intransigent center-left Democratic Party (PD) to come to the negotiating table.
The PD's coalition came third but has enough seats in both houses of the Italian parliament to prop up a M5S or right-wing government. However PD leader Maurizio Martina confirmed that his party would not work with either the right or M5S, saying that it was up to their opponents to try to form a government.