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Italian political standstill continues after Bersani's fruitless consultations for forming gov't


08:35, March 29, 2013

ROME, March 28 (Xinhua) -- Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano said on Thursday that he will hold another round of consultations after Pier Luigi Bersani, the head of the center-left coalition who was given an exploratory mandate last week for forming a new Italian government, reported back fruitless results.

"The outcome of the consultations was not decisive," a statement from the presidential office said after the meeting took place late in the day. "Napolitano has reserved the right to take steps without delay to personally ascertain the possible developments," it said.

Bersani reported back to Napolitano following days of consultations with political forces and social partners.

"I described to Napolitano the difficulties arisen from the exclusions or conditions that I did not consider acceptable," he said after the meeting.

The president had stressed over the past days that "Italy must find a government in the fullness of its powers, necessary to ensure the viability of the new term" and introduce urgent reforms to restart the recession-plagued economy.

After a new round of consultations, set to start on Friday, he may still hand the mandate to a political figure, or opt for a respected personality from a nonpartisan body, similar to what happened with outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti, who was appointed amid a peak in the eurozone crisis at the end of 2011.

Despite his appeal to clear the way for improving the chances of Italy, Bersani fell short of the support his coalition would need to govern after February's inconclusive elections, in which his Democratic Party (PD) had most votes but failed to reach a working majority in the Senate.

He tried fruitlessly to join hands with the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement (M5S), that won a big protest vote, after ruling out a broad coalition with his longstanding rival Silvio Berlusconi, head of the center-right which caused Monti's resignation last December.

The center-left program appeared somehow similar to that of the M5S, but the grassroots movement said it would not agree to any confidence in the new government, and instead would propose its own candidate for prime minister.

However, according to observers, the escalation of problems for Bersani as well as for outgoing Monti showed how hard it will be for any new premier to gain parliamentary support. Should the new executive not be able to govern, a snap new election would be the only possible scenario.

The forthcoming election of a successor of Napolitano, whose seven-year office ends in May, adds to pressure, as the Italian president is not allowed to dissolve parliament during the final six months of his term.

The enduring lack of a government has sparked international fears that the country, in its longest recession for 20 years, could fall into a dramatic downward spiral.

On Thursday, the spread between Italian and German bonds, a barometer of market confidence, widened 10 points to hit 360.

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