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Italian President Opens Path to Early Vote on Monti’s Successor

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, mediating a dispute among parliamentary supporters of Prime Minister Mario Monti, opened a path to holding elections in March, about one month before the government’s term expires.

Napolitano, who had asked the government to stand until the end of its term, stepped back from that request and said he would evaluate parliament’s record when setting a date for the national vote, according to a statement from the president’s office distributed by e-mail. Regional elections may be set for March 10, according to Napolitano, who issued the statement after meeting with Monti and the speakers of parliament.

Napolitano intervened after Monti’s government provoked criticism from supporters by scheduling the regional votes for February. Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Liberty party, the biggest member of Monti’s coalition, threatened to bring down the government unless it held regional and national votes on the same day. By delaying the regional vote to March, the general election could be moved up.

Napolitano is seeking to get two more pieces of legislation through parliament before allowing lawmakers to disband the government coalition and commence campaigning. The president asked for the 2013 budget, as well as a new electoral law to allow the winner a better chance of forming a stable government. That’s often a difficult task given Italian voters’ tendency to scatter votes among many parties.

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