Italian President Sergio Mattarella yesterday asked Senate speaker Maria Casellati to meet with bickering political parties to see if a government can be formed following inconclusive elections six weeks ago. At a meeting at the presidential palace, Mattarella gave her an "exploratory mandate" and a Friday deadline to report back to him about the possibility of breaking the deadlock. It has proved impossible to form a ruling coalition since the March 4 vote produced a hung parliament.
Casellati, 71, said she would meet with members of the center-right coalition which won most seats at the election but fell short of a working majority, and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement which emerged as the largest single party. It would be a surprise if her efforts are successful. The 5-Star said earlier it would definitely not form a government with former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia (Go Italy!) party, which is a core component of the center-right. Casellati is a senior member of Forza Italia and is extremely close to Berlusconi.
The European Union's third-largest economy has been under a caretaker government since the election. Two rounds of formal consultations have failed to overcome seemingly irreconcilable positions, and the stalemate is likely to persist until regional elections later this month, according to political sources.
The populist M5S was the single party with the highest number of votes, at 32 percent, while the center-right coalition led by the anti-migrant Northern League, including former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia, won 37 percent. Neither of the two leading forces can govern alone and no clear path to a coalition deal has emerged in the weeks since the elections.
Finding a solution has been tricky given how far any group is from a majority in either the lower house Chamber or upper house Senate. The right needs 51 more seats in the 630-seat Chamber and 23 in the Senate, as it needs holds 318 seats in order to form a stable majority. The M5S needs to secure the support of 94 more in the lower house and 51 in the upper house. The PD has refused to work with either the right or M5S despite having enough seats, 111 in the Chamber and 52 in the Senate, to form a government with either.
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