Napolitano Considers Options Amid Italy Government Stalemate

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano is considering how to resolve the country’s political crisis after leaders in the deadlocked parliament failed to reach a compromise on the formation of the next goverment.

Napolitano, who met with lawmakers yesterday, may make an announcement today, the president’s spokesman said late yesterday. Napolitano will continue talks with leaders in parliament and may consider resigning, daily La Repubblica reported today, without citing anyone.

The stalemate is the result of the inconclusive Feb. 24-25 election that split the Senate into three blocs. Napolitano, 87, is facing the final challenge of a seven-year term that ends in May. While he lacks a clear path to assembling a parliamentary majority, he received full backing from the biggest political force, the Democratic Party.

“We won’t withhold our support from the decisions that he will make in the coming hours,” Enrico Letta, a top Democratic Party official, said after meeting with Napolitano yesterday.

Napolitano may step down a month early to give his successor a speedier entry into the talks, Repubblica reported. Presidents in the final stages of their mandates aren’t permitted to dissolve parliament and call new elections, an option that would be available to Napolitano’s successor.

To reach a compromise, Napolitano would need help from lawmakers loyal to either former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi or Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement. Berlusconi said yesterday he would back a government in partnership with the Democratic Party, while Grillo reiterated he will shun a deal with other parties.

Common Ground

Napolitano may consider turning to a non-partisan figure outside the political arena to gain consensus.

The Italian president took charge of negotiations March 28 after Pier Luigi Bersani, the Democratic Party leader, spent a week in an unsuccessful attempt at convincing adversaries to back him. Berlusconi and Bersani clashed over policy as they prepare for a showdown over the choice of the next president, which will be chosen by parliament.

“We were and still are open to giving life to a coalition,” Berlusconi, 76, said yesterday after meeting Napolitano. “We think it’s logical that if we form a government together, a coalition government, then together we must discuss about who will be the best president of the republic.”

While Berlusconi finished second to Bersani in the election last month, his standing has improved since then, according to a poll distributed yesterday by SWG Institute. Berlusconi’s coalition led with 32.5 percent support among voters, compared with 29.6 percent for Bersani’s bloc, 24.8 percent for Grillo and 8.7 percent for outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti.

Vito Crimi, Five Star’s head in the Senate, and Roberta Lombardi, the party’s leader in the Chamber of Deputies, repeated their resistance to compromise after meeting Napolitano yesterday. That position was praised by Grillo later in an interview broadcast on his website.

“We’re going to win with our ideas and our strength because we’re a miracle,” Grillo said. “We are the French Revolution without the guillotine.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Frye in New York at afrye@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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