Italian President Sergio Mattarella has called for a new round of consultations over the formation of a possible new government for May 7 after nine weeks of political deadlock following inconclusive elections in March. Mattarella's office said the meetings with party leaders would take place on just the one day, with his options dwindling rapidly and calls for a swift return to the polls growing.
Amid calls for snap elections to end deadlock, Mattarella has ruled out the possibility of early elections in June, preferring instead to have a new government
Italian politics have been in limbo since an inconclusive vote on March 4, which saw a center-right alliance led by the anti-immigrant League win the most seats and the Five Star Movement (M5S) emerge as the biggest single party. The center-left Democratic Party (PD) suffered a historic defeat and came a distant third. A matrix of crisscrossing vetoes has so far prevented the parties from agreeing to a coalition deal, with friction and frustration growing by the day.
So far, four rounds of consultations, two by the president and two by parliamentary leaders, have failed to gather consensus for a new government. The budget must be presented to parliament in October and passed by the end of the year.
If party leaders fail to sign up to such an administration, which would almost certainly be led by a non-political figure, then a new vote would be held in the autumn - probably October.
Reports have suggested that Mattarella could resort to appointing a "truce" government to lead Italy through 2018 to pass the budget, and hold a new election in 2019.
A center-right coalition won 37 percent of Italy's March 4 vote and the anti-establishment, populist 5-Stars nabbed 32 percent. But the 5-Stars have refused to govern with ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia, a key member of the center-right coalition.
The other main center-right force, the anti-immigrant, populist League party, had entertained a possible alliance with the 5-Stars. But League leader Matteo Salvini refused to break with Berlusconi, and of late has been locked in a war of words with 5-Star leader Luigi di Maio.
The Democratic Party, for its part, has fractured between forces willing to negotiate with the 5-Stars and those loyal to ex-Premier Matteo Renzi, who has ruled out any deal. A party meeting on Thursday was expected to lay those divisions bare.