ROME, Dec. 11 (NsNewsWire) — Italian President Sergio Mattarella has met with major party leaders in bid to choose a new prime minister for setting up a transition government after the resignation of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Wednesday.
Mattarella had to consult with all parties represented in parliament before naming a new prime minister. He has held a series of talks with party leaders since Thursday, reports Xinhua.
After hearing from leaders of 17 small parliamentary groups on Thursday and Friday, the Italian president has met with six main parties on Saturday.
These included Renzi’s center-left Democratic Party (PD) and euroskeptic Five Star Movement (M5S), the first and second largest force in the parliament respectively; anti-immigration Northern League, leftist SEL party, the New Center Right (NCD) party, and Forza Italia (FI) party of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.
The final decision was expected as early as possible in the weekend.
Since Friday, Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni seemed to emerge as the most likely candidate to take the post of prime minister, according to local media. As reported by Ansa news agency, Gentiloni and Renzi met twice in the PM’s office on Friday.
Yet, other names would remain possible for the post, especially Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan, a respected economist whose figure might be reassuring for the markets, as well as President of the Senate and former anti-mafia prosecutor Pietro Grasso.
Once appointed, the new prime minister may be entrusted with the task of framing a new electoral law, and lead the country to an early vote in spring 2017.
Otherwise, the transitional government may remain in charge through the end of the legislative term in Feb. 2018, to address major issues weighing on the country — above all, the bank crisis — and relevant international commitments.
Some major opposition forces, namely M5S and the Northern League, were pressing for immediate elections, claiming the rejection of the constitutional reform by some 59 percent of voters also meant a rejection of Renzi’s government overall.
In order to go to the polls so early, however, the current electoral law has to be changed, or at least amended, because it applies to the lower house only.
The law was in fact approved in 2015 already foreseeing a demoted Senate, as proposed in the rejected constitutional reform.
Mattarella has made it clear he considers “inconceivable” to call fresh elections without an electoral law consistent for both houses in parliament.
A final factor to consider was that Italy’s Constitutional Court is expected to rule on the electoral law’s legitimacy on Jan. 24.
The outgoing prime minister’s name was also suggested as possible caretaker since the opening of the political crisis, but Renzi so far declared he was not interested in this option.
In a PD meeting on Wednesday, Renzi said his party would be ready to go to the polls after the Constitutional Court had ruled on the electoral law, or to take part in a “national unity government”including all major parties.