Italian President Sergio Mattarella begins talks with key players on Wednesday in a bid to end Italy’s political limbo the day after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned.
The usually mild-mannered Conte handed in his resignation after lashing out at far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini for pursuing his own interests by pulling the plug on the ruling coalition with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S).
The move left the eurozone’s third largest economy in a political vacuum until Mattarella decides whether to form a new coalition or call an election after talks with parties in the coming days.
Meanwhile Mattarella charged Conte with heading a caretaker administration, pending consultations on a new government which are set to begin at 1400 GMT.
Italy’s constitution says that Mattarella should first consult former presidents, meaning Senator Giorgio Napolitano, 94, who was in the job from 2006-2015.
According to opinion polls, the League could form a coalition with the anti-immigration, anti-LGBT Brothers of Italy, and possibly Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right Forza Italia.
But a bid by his rivals to put aside their differences and forge an alliance could derail Salvini’s plan, with a coalition between M5S and the opposition centre-left Democratic Party (PD) being discussed.
While there is bad blood between the two parties, M5S is languishing in the polls and wants to avoid an early election.
Former PD premier Matteo Renzi on Tuesday said that he “would not be part” of a PD-M5S alliance, as many in the anti-establishment party resent him as part of the old elite.
According to some analysts, Conte could also stay on as premier while trying to form an alliance with PD.