Rome, March 28 - Italian centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani said he will report to President Giorgio Napolitano later on Thursday after finishing consultations on his tough bid to form a government. "By this evening I'll go to the Quirinale (the presidential palace) to report on my evaluations," Bersani said. Napolitano last week gave Bersani a mandate to try to form a new executive as his coalition came first in last month's inconclusive general election, although it did not win a working majority in the Senate. Bersani's chances of success appear to be slim. He ruled out forming a grand coalition with ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right alliance, which came second in the general election. Instead he tried to reach out to the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), which holds the balance of power in the Upper House after capturing a huge protest vote. But he has been rebuffed with a series of insults from M5S leader Beppe Grillo. Bersani said on Wednesday that he hoped parties that were not backing his alliance would not block it from forming a government. Some commentators saw this as a possible plea to Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party to abstain from an eventual vote of confidence in an executive led by him. But PdL leader Angelino Alfano responded that Bersani's refusal to consider forming a grand coalition with the centre-right party had led him up a "blind alley" and he would have to make a U-turn to get out of it.
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di Giovanni Pastore