Italian president seeks end to political paralysis

ROME (AP) — President Giorgio Napolitano opened his unprecedented second term with around-the-clock consultations Tuesday aimed at finding a candidate to form a new government and end the political paralysis following inconclusive February elections.

Napolitano met with leaders of both chambers and representatives of Italy’s major parties to sound them out on a possible premier who could form a government and win a mandatory vote of confidence in Parliament. His office said no announcement was expected Tuesday.

Napolitano, 87, has urged parties to quickly agree on a new government, chastising them for treating the notion of a political alliance as a “horror” and urging them to face the reality that no party in Feb. 24-25 elections won control of both houses.

The caretaker government of Mario Monti remains in place until a new government is formed.

The center-left Democratic Party, which controls the lower house but not the Senate, had refused to consider an alliance with former Premier Silvio Berlusconi, and failed to persuade the anti-establishment movement of comic-turned-political leader Beppe Grillo to join forces.

On Tuesday, the Democratic leader Pier Luigi Bersani confirmed his resignation. He was badly discredited after failing to form a government in the aftermath of the elections, and then after his deeply divided party imploded during the process to elect a head of state. Parliament and regional leaders eventually voted Napolitano back into office.

The Democratic Party’s deputy chief, Enrico Letta, headed the delegation during Tuesday’s talks and said the party was “available and eager” to try to form a government. He pledged to follow the indications set out by Napolitano during his highly critical speech Monday before Parliament after taking his oath of office.

During the speech, Napolitano told the parties that called him to serve again that they would be held accountable if they don’t forge alliances and policies to pull the eurozone’s third-largest economy out of recession and put it back on the path of financial reforms and growth.

Representatives from Grillo’s 5-Star Movement, which took a quarter of the national vote on its campaign promise to send Italy’s political classes packing, said they would be the opposition to any government formed and would vote on a case-by-case basis on proposed legislation.

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