Rome

Bersani talks to parties in bid to form government

No deal cut with PdL

Bersani talks to parties in bid to form government

(By Kate Carlisle) Rome, March 26 - No deal was cut to form a government in meetings between ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party (PdL) and centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani on Tuesday. The PdL has been calling on Bersani to reach an agreement with it to form a grand coalition for government, and on Monday he also ruled out a proposal from Berlusconi for PdL Secretary Angelino Alfano to be deputy premier. Following Tuesday's talks, Alfano said the positions of the two coalitions remain very "distant". "If they remain far apart over the next 48 hours, we will repeat that there is the need for the country to vote again," Alfano said. Bersani met with representatives of many of Italy's main political parties throughout the day in his bid to form a government after the country's February 24-25 general elections resulted in a hung parliament. The Democratic Party (PD) chief, whose coalition won a majority in the Lower House but failed to take enough votes to clinch a working majority in the equally powerful Senate, met Alfano together with his coalition partner Roberto Maroni, leader of the regionalist Northern League, mid-afternoon. On Tuesday former industry minister Bersani also met with representatives of the centrist Civic Choice led by outgoing premier Premier Mario Monti. Civic Choice is calling for a coalition government formed by the greatest possible number of political parties to pass key reforms. On Wednesday Bersani will meet with members of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) led by former comedian Beppe Grillo, which is key to obtaining the support of parliament. Grillo has repeatedly ruled out backing a Bersani-led government although since the election of the PD's candidate Pietro Grasso as Senate Speaker with support from 'dissident' M5S Senators, cracks in the movement's hard line have started to appear. Bersani is due to return to President Giorgio Napolitano on Thursday to say whether his government proposal has sufficient support to pass a confidence vote in parliament. But media pundits have expressed pessimism over his chances to successfully form a government and have predicted that Italians will be forced to return to the polls.

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