Fico gets mandate to explore M5S-PD govt accord (2)

No chance of a deal says Orfini

Fico gets mandate to explore M5S-PD govt accord (2)

Rome, April 23 - President Sergio Mattarella on Monday handed Lower House Speaker Roberto Fico an exploratory mandate to explore the possibility of a government-formation deal between his anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) and the centre-left democratic Party (PD) - a deal that was immediately rejected by PD Chair Matteo Orfini, although M5S leader Luigi Di Maio said he was optimistic. Mattarella gave Fico until Thursday to report back on the possibility of an M5S-PD government. "The president of the Republic conferred on House Speaker Roberto Fico the task of verifying an agreement for a parliamentary majority between the 5-Star Movement and the PD to constitute a government," said presidency Secretary-General Ugo Zampetti after talks between Mattarella and Fico. Fico said would "start work straight away" on his mandate. "In my view the fundamental point is to start from the issues that interest the country and the programme for the country's interest", he said. Asked if he felt a sense of responsibility after receiving the mandate, Fico replied "certainly". Mattarella had told Fico Monday that "at a distance of almost two months from the March 4 elections we must underline the duty of giving Italy a government as soon as possible", sources said. Fico went on to see Premier Paolo Gentiloni, a leading member of the PD. Orfini, the PD chair, said the PD "was, is and will remain" alternative to the M5S, scotching chances for a deal. "We will obviously listen to Fico with respect and attention, with respect both for him and the function he represents," said Orfini. "But my opinion remains that of the previous days: we were, we are and we will remain alternative to the Five Stars for political culture, programmes and ideas of democracy. "Therefore the conditions for a political accord between the PD and the M5S do no exist. "We have always said that and we reiterate it on the merits of the case". But Di Maio, the M5S leader, said he accepted President Mattarella's request to talk to the PD on forming a possible government. He said he would soon meet with Fico "to assess the possibility of this course, considering that on the other side they didn't want to listen to their own voters who asked (League leader Matteo) Salvini to take this step." He added: "this is the decisive week and I'm very optimistic" because "it will not be an alliance: what was valid for the League is valid for the PD. The conditions have not changed". On Friday Mattarella said he was taking two days to reflect after Senate Speaker Maria Elisabetta Casellati failed to make a breakthrough last week with an exploratory mandate he gave her. Casellati's mandate involved verifying the possibility of forming a government made up of the centre right, the coalition that came first in last month's inconclusive general election, and the M5S, the biggest single party in the new parliament. But the M5S reiterated that it was against forming a government with the centre right as a whole and was only willing to hold talks with the League, not with its alliance partners - Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia and the rightwing Brothers of Italy (FdI) party. The PD is reeling after recording its worst-ever showing in last month's inconclusive vote, which prompted the resignation of leader and ex-premier Matteo Renzi, and has said it will be in the opposition in the new parliament. However, PD minority leaders have come out against caretaker leader Maurizio Martina's insistence on respecting Renzi's call to opposition. Most of the party is still loyal to Renzi, who is now just a plain Senator. Mattarella said Monday that "I waited another three days to register possible public, explicit and significant developments in the talks between (the M5S and League) parties. "These developments did not emerge". League leader Matteo Salvini said Fico's mandate is "taking the mickey". Referring to the PD, he said "they lost in Italy, they lost Molise, if you give us a hand they will super-lose on Sunday in Friuli Venezia Giulia," he said. "I don't want to see Renzi, Serracchiani or Boschi in government for the next five years. It's not right, it's not normal, it isn't respectful". He said "you always have to respect the indications of the president, etc., etc., but I'll do my all so that this mickey-take doesn't happen". Salvini said on the stump for a regional vote in Friuli that "for the government we could do the same thing that you have done with (post-quake) reconstruction: if those with whom you're supposed to rebuild start quarrelling and don't come to an agreement, in the end we can roll up our sleeves and try to go it alone".

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