Fresh government formation bid to be announced Wednesday

High hopes for gridlock break

Fresh government formation bid to be announced Wednesday

(By Kate Carlisle)Rome, April 23 - The pause button was hit once more on Tuesday evening as Italians waited to hear who will be tapped to form a government following a round of swift talks between re-elected President Giorgio Napolitano and Italy's parties. The candidate mandated to end two months of political deadlock will be announced on Wednesday, PD Deputy Secretary Enrico Letta said. "The key questions are labor and political reform" for the government leader to be forwarded by Napolitano, Letta said. Some pundits expect Napolitano to give Giuliano Amato from the biggest party in parliament, the crisis-hit Democratic Party (PD), a mandate to form a government. Amato is a senior PD member who had two short stints as premier between 1992 and 1993 and 2000 and 2001. Another possibility is the party's rising star, Florence's 38-year-old Mayor Matteo Renzi, who came second in the centre-left's premier-candidate primary in December and is supported by the young Turks of the PD. Renzi, however, has played this down, despite his name being put forward earlier in the day by PD member Umberto Ranieri at the party's leadership meeting. Ranieri said that Renzi would be "a courageous choice answering a political question and an important step towards the reconstruction of the relationship between politics and citizens". PD Deputy Secretary Enrico Letto was also strongly tipped to get the nomination. Napolitano reluctantly agreed to serve a second term on Saturday after the parties failed to agree on a candidate to succeed the 87-year-old. He stepped in as the situation threatened to further complicate the impasse the country has endured since February's inconclusive general election, as problems pile up for the recession-ravaged nation. The head of state said the parties had behaved irresponsibly and has threatened to quit if they refuse to form a coalition to pass measures in a programme he recently asked a group of experts, dubbed the 10 wise men, to prepare. "If I find myself once again facing the kind of deafness I ran into in the past, I will not hesitate to draw the consequences," Napolitano said. The centre-left led by Pier Luigi Bersani, who beat Renzi in the primary and came first in February's vote but did not gain a working majority in the Senate confirmed his decision to quit as the leader of the PD on Tuesday. Bersani, who was given a mandate to form a government after the general election, ruled out forming a grand coalition with ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi People of Freedom (PdL) party. But he failed in a bid to reach out to the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), which won about a quarter of the vote, leaving the country in a situation of gridlock. The PD is now expected to support a so-called 'government of the president', which would also be backed by the PdL, outgoing Premier Mario Monti's Civic Choice party and possibly the Northern League, with a limited mandate to pass some key reforms, including a new electoral law. This administration is set to include institutional figures as well as PD and PdL politicians, unlike Monti's emergency government of unelected technocrats.

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