Italy’s President Ends Talks With Leaders as Five Star Backs Conte

Italy’s president summoned the speaker of the lower house of parliament Friday evening and will likely ask him to lead negotiations aimed at solving the country’s political impasse.

President Sergio Mattarella will meet speaker Roberto Fico at 7.30 p.m. in Rome, the head of state’s spokesman told reporters after three days of talks between the president and party leaders. Mattarella wants a quick solution of the stalemate that led to the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte earlier this week.

The outgoing premier remains a favorite to eventually lead a new government, after the Five Star Movement, the biggest party in parliament, lobbied for his return during its meeting with Mattarella, who’s responsible for picking a premier-designate. Fico will now explore whether there’s room to rebuild the coalition that supported Conte.

Italy’s President Ends Talks With Leaders as Five Star Backs Conte

Five Star signaled they are willing to patch up their alliance with former premier Matteo Renzi, who pulled out of the coalition on Jan. 13, depriving Conte of his majority in the Senate and prompting Conte’s resignation earlier.

Italy’s President Ends Talks With Leaders as Five Star Backs Conte

“We expressed our readiness for talks with those who intend to give concrete responses in the interests of the country, for a government that starts with the forces that have worked together for the last year and a half,” Vito Crimi, Five Star’s political leader, told reporters after meeting the president Friday.

The three days of talks at the presidential palace in Rome saw leaders of parties big and small express dismay at the timing of the political turmoil, with Italy battling the coronavirus pandemic and a recession while debating how to manage its share of the European Union’s recovery package.

Repairing Relations

If Mattarella does evenutally decide to grant Conte a new opportunity, the premier will seek to repair relations with Renzi and his tiny Italy Alive party, while continuing his search for pro-European, centrist and unaffiliated lawmakers, especially in the Senate.

Italy’s President Ends Talks With Leaders as Five Star Backs Conte

Read More: Conte Gambit May Return Him to Power in Italy or Cut Him Off

Both Five Star and the center-left Democratic Party are sticking with Conte. And While Renzi has insisted that priorities for a new government should be agreed upon before discussing who becomes the next premier, he has not ruled out giving his blessing to a third Conte administration.

Possible alternatives to Conte range from Democratic leader Nicola Zingaretti to technocrats like Marta Cartabia, a former head of the Constitutional Court. Newspapers have also speculated on a return of ex-Premier Paolo Gentiloni, who now serves as the EU’s economy chief in Brussels.

Center-right leaders urged Mattarella earlier Friday to resolve the deadlock by calling early elections, adding its divided members reserved the right to assess any decision he takes. Early elections remain an unlikely option with surveys showing the center-right opposition would win.

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