Italy Turns to 5-Stars to Lead Talks to End Impasse

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AP/Andrew Medichini

ROME (AP) — Italy’s president asked the populist 5-Star Movement on Monday to see if it can find a parliamentary majority with the Democratic Party, after weeks of consultations failed to yield a government following inconclusive March 4 elections.

President Sergio Mattarella asked the 5-Star president of the lower chamber of deputies, Roberto Fico, to explore a possible alliance with the Democrats and report back by Thursday. After meeting Monday with Mattarella, Fico said he would look to find issues that are of “interest to the country.”

The Democrats were the big losers in the March 4 vote, suffering the worst-ever defeat by the left. A center-right coalition of the right-wing League, the center-right Forza Italia of Silvio Berlusconi and a smaller right-wing group were the top vote getters, with the 5-Stars coming in second place.

But none of the three main blocs won enough to ensure a majority, resulting in a political impasse that Mattarella is eager to overcome.

Five-Star leader Luigi Di Maio had been trying to convince League leader Matteo Salvini to break with Berlusconi, but to date Salvini has stayed loyal. The League had been a junior partner in each of Berlusconi’s three governments, but its strong showing March 4 — stronger than Forza Italia — has upset the balance in the traditionally Berlusconi-led coalition.

Di Maio has ruled out having Forza Italia in any 5-Star government.

That center-right alliance won a regional election Sunday in southern Molise, boosting its standing in national talks.


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