ROME, Feb. 14 -- Italian President Giorgio Napolitano began consultations to form a new government on Friday, following resignation of Prime Minister Enrico Letta.
The presidents of the Senate and the Lower House, Pietro Grasso and Laura Boldrini respectively, were the first to meet with Napolitano at Quirinale presidential palace in Rome, for what it has been announced as a very swift round of talks.
Napolitano also met with representatives of two minor groups in the Parliament and will resume talks with the leaders of bigger parties on Saturday morning.
According to a presidential statement, talks would end by Saturday to see if a parliamentary majority supporting a new appointed premier can be realized as soon as possible.
Florence mayor Matteo Renzi is expected to be given the mandate, since he is the leader of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), the largest one in the Parliament.
The mandate for Renzi, 39, may arrive as soon as Sunday. If expectations are confirmed, he will be the youngest prime minister in the history of the Italian Republic.
After accepting Prime Minister Enrico Letta's resignation on Friday morning, Napolitano stressed very clearly he would like to conduct consultations in the shortest time possible in order to find "an efficient solution to the crisis, which is most needed to deal with the delicate economic situation and to work on a new electoral law and other urgent reforms," the statement said.
Indeed, the new political crisis in Italy broke out against a backdrop of worrying economic conditions.
Enrico Letta, appointed in April to lead an unstable coalition of left, right and centrist forces, was put under increasing pressure by his own Democratic Party, since Renzi was elected new PD leader in December.
Letta was blamed for the slow pace of his cabinet in implementing reforms that could boost the recovery.
He resigned on Friday morning, after two months of bitter confrontation, following the decision of the PD to back Renzi in his call for a new government.
Centre-right Forza Italia party and other opposition forces made a call for Letta to go before the Parliament and explain the reasons of his step, in order to give more "formality" to a political crisis that broke entirely from within the PD. Their request was dismissed by President Napolitano, however, as unnecessary.
The anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), which won 25 percent of the vote in last election, announced as a sign of protest that it would not take part in the talks for the new cabinet because "everything is already been decided." Opposition Northern League party will also not attend.
Renzi will reportedly try to gather a coalition with the same partners that supported Letta, and he has announced Italy needs a government "that could last until the natural end of the parliamentary term in 2018."
If consultations end successfully, Italy would have the third non-elected government in about two years, since former premier Silvio Berlusconi resigned in November 2011.
This condition seemed to cause an uneasy feeling among Italians, together with a visible discontent for the poor results in tackling the ongoing economic crisis.