Napolitano rules out new Italy poll
Italian centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani today ruled out forming a coalition with Silvio Berlusconi to solve an intractable crisis after an inconclusive election outcome. Photograph: Reuters.
President Giorgio Napolitano ruled out an early return to the polls today as Italy's parties wrangled over how to form a government after this week's deadlocked election.
Speaking during a state visit to Berlin, Mr Napolitano said Italy needed a stable government and could not immediately hold a new election.
"I'm not interested in going back to vote again," he told reporters at the margins of an event at the Humboldt University.
Mr Napolitano's mandate ends in mid-May but he said his successor would be just as reluctant to call a new vote.
"I doubt that a new president will be thinking only of new elections. We'll have to see how to give Italy a government," the head of state said.
He made his comments as the three main blocs in parliament grappled with the aftermath of a vote that has left none with a workable majority and has revived fears of a return to the euro zone debt crisis.
Economic data today underlined the extent of the problems a new government will face, with youth unemployment rising to a record of almost 39 per cent and public debt at 127 percent of gross domestic product.
Democratic Party (PD) leader Pier Luigi Bersani, whose centre-left coalition has a lower house majority but not enough seats to control the Senate, ruled out a "grand coalition" with Silvio Berlusconi's centre right.
"I want to spell it out clearly: the idea of a grand coalition does not exist and will never exist," he told the daily La Repubblica in an interview today.
This shut off one of two apparent options for a new government, by closing the door on a formal alliance between the two biggest parties - which both backed the technocrat government of outgoing prime minister Mario Monti.
Today Mr Berlusconi appeared in court at one of the three trials he is currently facing and denied allegations of tax fraud. He has also rejected separate accusations that he paid bribes to bring down Italy's last centre-left government in 2006.
The legal cases are one of the reasons there is huge opposition in Mr Bersani's party to any alliance with the scandal-plagued media baron. Rank-and-file members believe any alliance with Mr Berlusconi would bleed even more of their support to the anti-establishment party of Beppe Grillo.
Mr Grillo's 5-Star Movement, which rode a huge protest vote to become Italy's third force in the election, has ruled out giving a vote of confidence to another party but says it may back individual laws.
In a sign of the tensions, the comic and blogger accused the PD of trying to persuade a number of 5-Star members to support a centre-left government.
"The 5-Star Movement, its deputies, its activists and its voters are not for sale. Bersani is finished and he doesn't realise it," he said in a blog post.