Italy may turn to new technocrat government

Tuesday 05 March 2013 17.05
President Giorgio Napolitano is charged with finding a way out of the politcal impasse
President Giorgio Napolitano is charged with finding a way out of the politcal impasse

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano is reportedly considering appointing a new technocrat government led by a non-politician.

Sources said the move could provide one way out of Italy's political stalemate.

Such a solution would come into play if centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani failed to form a government after receiving an initial mandate from Mr Napolitano, as is expected.

Mr Bersani won a majority in the lower house of parliament and says he has the right to be the first to try to form a government, although he has no workable majority in the Senate.

However, 5-Star Movement leader Beppe Grillo responded to speculation about a technocrat government by saying he would not support such an administration.

He said a technocrat premier would just be a "fig leaf" to cover the responsibilities of the traditional parties.

Mr Napolitano is charged with finding a way out of the impasse but does not begin formal consultations until around 15 March for constitutional reasons.

With no party able to control the upper house, the options for forming a government depend on an agreement between at least two of the three main rival forces in parliament: Mr Bersani's centre-left, the centre-right bloc led by Silvio Berlusconi and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement.

Mr Grillo has expressed repeated hostility to overtures from Mr Bersani and is considered unlikely to support a government led by him.

Mr Monti, the outgoing prime minister, invited the heads of the three main blocs to meetings to discuss next week's European Council meeting in Brussels.

The leadership of Mr Bersani's Democratic Party is due to meet tomorrow to discuss its next steps and to approve a core programme of reforms in areas including corruption and party finance, which he has said he will present to parliament.

He has ruled out an alliance with Mr Berlusconi and has called on Mr Grillo's party, the third most powerful force in parliament with 163 members in the two houses, to back his proposals.

The political stalemate in Italy has caused alarm among its European partners because of concern that instability could reignite the market crisis that brought the eurozone to the brink of collapse before Mr Monti was appointed in November 2011.

Yesterday, European finance ministers meeting in Brussels said they were optimistic that whatever government was formed in Italy would show responsibility.

Mr Monti remains in charge of day-to-day government business until a new government is formed, but cannot introduce any major legislation.

His own involvement in the election, in which he led a centrist grouping that won just over 10% of the vote, is thought to have ruled him out for another term as a non-partisan head of government.

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