After a week of consultations with the various factions in Italy’s parliament, Pier Luigi Bersani, the leader of the Partito Democratico (PD, Democratic Party) and of the broader centrosinistra (center-left) coalition, has failed to form a government, Bersani informed Italian president Giorgio Napolitano earlier today — although his coalition controls an absolute majority of seats in the lower house of Italy’s parliament, no one controls a majority in the Senato, the upper house.
The deadlock has resulted for two main reasons.
First, Bersani refuses to join a ‘grand coalition’ with Silvio Berlusconi, the leader of the Popolo della Libertà (PdL, People of Freedom) and the broader centrodestra (center-right) coalition — this week, Bersani again turned down the offer of a ‘grand coalition’ that would have made Bersani premier and Berlusconi’s top lieutenant, former justice minister Angelino Alfano, vice premier. In exchange for the center-right’s support to prop up his premiership, however, Berlusconi has essentially demanded that the next president be a moderate or conservative acceptable to Berlusconi (don’t rule out the notion that Berlusconi conceivably meant Berlusconi himself).
Second, Beppe Grillo and his populist Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S, the Five Star Movement) refuses to join a coalition with either the centrosinistra or the centrodestra, either formally or informally. The best that the Five Star Movement legislators have offered is to provide their support on an issue-by-issue basis, though Grillo called both the right and the left ‘whoremonger fathers’ on his blog yesterday. This isn’t a man who wants to compromise.
An exasperated Bersani was already calling for a ‘government of miracles‘ on Tuesday (obviously not a good sign) and yesterday joked that only someone insane would want to lead Italy’s government.
Those lines have essentially been drawn since the immediate result of the election became clear. So there was never much optimism that Bersani would succeed.
So the big question now is: what happens next?
All eyes on Napolitano
The key player at this point is Napolitano (pictured above), who will now spend the next 24 hours talking to the parties to see if they really, really won’t support a Bersani government.
Although he hasn’t unlocked a deal over the past week, Bersani has not yet renounced the mandate that Napolitano gave him last Friday to form a government, and he could convince Napolitano to appoint him prime minister anyway in order to the parliament in an attempt to try to squeak through a vote of no confidence.
But as Open Europe noted yesterday, a failure would leave Bersani in place as the default caretaker prime minister: Continue reading Italian government now rests in hands of Napolitano, Italy’s president