Italy President Aims to Break Deadlock in Few Days' Time

(Bloomberg) -- Italian President Sergio Mattarella said he will decide how to break the political deadlock in a few days’ time, after a second round of talks with party leaders failed to make progress in the search for a new government.

The head of state, whose task it is to appoint a premier, told reporters Italy needed a government “urgently” in part because of increasing international tensions, a reference to the Syrian crisis.

“I will wait several days, after which I will assess how to come out of the deadlock,” Mattarella said. He said speed was also needed because of factors including contrasts over international trade, as well as European Union deadlines.

The center-right alliance led by Matteo Salvini of the euroskeptic League clashed with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement during talks hosted by the president on Thursday and Friday, with the center-right demanding Salvini become premier. Salvini’s coalition led Five Star in March 4 elections but neither won a parliamentary majority.

In a thinly-veiled attack on Five Star, which has offered to govern with the League but has rejected any deal with his center-right ally Silvio Berlusconi, Salvini denounced Thursday “a game of political tactics, of refusals, and of vetoes while Italians suffer and await solutions.”

Salvini has pledged to govern with Five Star only if his allies agree. Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio is insisting on the premiership, and on the exclusion of Berlusconi, who is banned from holding public office until next year because of a 2013 tax-fraud conviction. For Five Star, Berlusconi embodies the political corruption it campaigns against.

Mattarella may ask Salvini next week to try to form a government as the head of the biggest party in the center-right, a more likely choice than Di Maio, a senior state official said earlier this week.

The head of state could alternatively give a so-called “exploratory mandate” to one of the parliamentary speakers or another figure, asking them to establish whether a working majority is possible -- that mediator would not then become premier, the official said. Mattarella could also hold a third round of talks.

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