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Italian President Puts Off Premier Choice as PD Pushes for Renzi

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano leaves after meeting party delegations at the Quirinale palace in Rome on February 15, 2014. Photographer: Filippo Monteforte/AFP via Getty Images

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said he needs more time to choose the next prime minister after two days of talks with parliamentary groups, the biggest of which urged that Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi be named.

“It has been an interesting day, full of ideas and opinions,” Napolitano, 88, said yesterday to reporters in Rome. “Naturally, my task will be over the moment I give the mandate to the person that must work to put together a new government.”

The next prime minister will inherit a stagnant economy and a fragmented legislature that still has four years left in its term. The 39-year-old Renzi, who leads the largest party in parliament, toppled Enrico Letta’s government on Feb. 14 and is the frontrunner to get the mandate. Lawmakers from his Democratic Party put Renzi’s name forward yesterday in their meeting with Napolitano.

The Democratic Party “must put its full political power at the service of the country,” Luigi Zanda, the group’s chief whip in the Senate, told reporters after meeting Napolitano. That starts with “Matteo Renzi, a nomination for whom we placed before the president,” Zanda said.

The Democratic Party, known as the PD, needs allies to control both houses of parliament, and it’s Napolitano’s job to ensure that whomever he appoints as premier has a path toward securing the necessary majorities. Willingness to collaborate was signaled by Angelino Alfano, the outgoing deputy prime minister, and allies of former Prime Minister Mario Monti.

No Coalition

The second- and third-biggest parties have said they won’t enter into a coalition with the PD.

Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement, the upstart anti-establishment party, declined to participate in the talks with Napolitano, while billionaire former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told reporters yesterday that his party would remain in the opposition.

Berlusconi, who was expelled from the Senate in November for tax fraud, accompanied his party’s lead lawmakers to their meeting with the president.

Letta, 47, will remain acting prime minister until a new premier is sworn in. Letta’s finance minister, Fabrizio Saccomanni, will represent Italy at the meeting tomorrow and Tuesday of European Union finance ministers in Brussels, Roberto Basso, the minister’s spokesman said.

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