Italy again failed to form a coalition government after two days of talks came to an end on Thursday.
Italy had a general election on March 4 resulting in a hung parliament, since which once-fringe parties have squabbled over who should lead a potential coalition.
After the talks, President Sergio Mattarella told reporters:
- "No party or political side has on its own the votes to form a government."
- "Over the next week, I will launch a new round of consultations to see if the possibility of forming a government, which today has not materialized, has advanced."
Parties stake claim
Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right League, or Lega — formerly known as Northern League, or Lega Nord in Italian — party, said the only feasible government he sees is a coalition between his party and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S).
"You don't need a scientist to see that any other solution would be improvized and makeshift," Salvini said.
MS5 leader Luigi Di Maio had offered to negotiate a German-style coalition "government contract" with either the League or the center-left Democratic Party (PD), which suffered a historic defeat in the election.
Silvio Berlusconi of Forza Italia — which is in a center-right alliance with Lega and Brothers of Italy — called for a government based on "clear agreements on concrete and feasible solutions, credible at European level."
Read more: Italy election to result in hung parliament
Clock ticking: President Mattarella does not have a hard deadline for the parties to form government, but he does hold the power to dissolve parliament and call fresh elections.
Growing euroskepticism: The ruling social democratic PD suffered an embarrassing defeat in the election, being leapfrogged by populist, euroskeptic parties. If the M5S and the League end up forming a coalition they could be headed for a collision course with the European Union.
Coalition falls apart: A right-wing alliance consisting of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia, Salvini's League and Brothers of Italy together took 37 percent of the vote. But Salvini's party usurped Berlusconi as the leader of that bloc and M5S is now demanding it break ranks with Forza Italia.
New round: A second of negotiations will take place next week.
aw/ng (dpa, Reuters, AFP)