Italian president moots 'neutral' government as crisis lingers

Rome (AFP) –


Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Monday proposed the formation of a "neutral" government to steer the country until December if bickering political parties fail to form a ruling coalition after inconclusive elections in March.

Mattarella called on the warring parties to show "responsibility" and support his as yet unnamed government, without which he said he would convene elections in July or in the autumn.

"The parties need to choose, we can't wait any longer," said Mattarella, speaking to reporters after a third round of consultations with the parties failed to break the two-month long stalemate.

However parliamentary approval for the government proposed by Mattarella looks unlikely, as the leaders of Italy's largest party, the Five Star Movement (M5S), and a right-wing coalition led by the nationalist League, which won the most votes in March polls, have both insisted on July elections.

"It's crucial that the vote of the people is respected. So it's either a centre-right government or elections as soon as possible," said League leader Matteo Salvini after Mattarella spoke.

Luigi Di Maio, head of M5S said on Twitter: "No confidence in a 'neutral' government, which is synonymous with technical government. We should go to the polls in July."

The president outlined an administration that would help Italy maintain its international obligations and approve the 2019 budget.

The government would then dissolve at the end of the year ahead of elections to be held at the start of 2019.

Mattarella also added that should a parliamentary majority capable of governing be found in the meantime, the fill-in government would step aside for the formation found in parliament.