The acting leader of Italy's center-left Democratic Party Enrico Letta looks set to become prime minister. A spokesman for President Giorgio Napolitano said Letta had been asked to form a government to end a stalemate.
Napolitano, who was inaugurated for a surprise second term on Monday after having been broadly endorsed by Italy's political parties, summoned Enrico Letta, the Democratic Party's (DP) No. 2. leader to the Quirinale Palace in Rome on Wednesday.
His spokesman Donato Marra told reporters: "The president has given the nomination to Enrico Letta."
Recession-hit Italy has been paralyzed since its inconclusive parliamentary election in February delivered no clear winner.
Assuming Letta quickly forms a new cabinet, he could go to parliament to seek a vote of confidence by this weekend.
Letta had remained the DP's most senior figure following last Friday's resignation of party leader Pier Luigi Bersani over his failure to form a government and failure to unite the party behind a previous presidential candidate.
Four stints in cabinet
Letta, 46, an advocate of European unity, who has had stints as minister for Europe and for trade in four past Italian cabinets, is a nephew of Gianni Letta, a chief of staff of former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.
Emerging from his consultations with Napolitano on Wednesday, Letta said he felt he had a profound responsibility on his shoulders.
Italy faced a "difficult and fragile" situation, he said, and his new cabinet would have to provide answers on jobs, including 38 percent youth unemployment, poverty, and support for small businesses in crisis.
"European economic policies have been too focused on austerity instead of growth," he added.
"Without political reforms, there's no way out of the economic crisis," Letta had told reporters after an earlier meeting with Napolitano on Tuesday.
Letta or Amato
Napolitano had spent all Tuesday meeting with a cross-section of Italy's parties to find out who would gain the support of both main blocs in parliament, the center-left Democrats and the center-right.
The president's choice reportedly came down to Letta and two-time premier Giuliano Amato, aged 74.
The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement has vowed to stay in opposition.
ipj/ccp (AP, Reuters, AFP)