Pier Luigi Bersani, the Democrats's leader, with a mandate from the head of state to try and win support for a centre-left administration, came away empty-handed after meeting parliamentary leaders of the Five Star Movement on Wednesday morning. Talks with Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right alliance also came to nothing on Tuesday.
Vito Crimi, senate leader of the Five Star Movement, expressed approval for the eight-point programme of political and economic reforms put forward by the Democrats. But he ruled out giving Mr Bersani's proposed government the support it needs to pass the first hurdle of a confidence vote in the upper house.
The Five Star Movement faced with a dilemma: to govern or not to govern. If the Movement
accepted Bersani’s offer, it would have lost its credibility for two reasons. First, the Five Star Movement voters would have criticized the party for signing an agreement with the old establishment that the Movement was supposed to overturn. Second, the whole country and the world would have understood the Movement's inadequacy to lead a country in a time of crisis.
By refusing to compromise right away, the Five Star Movement might lose its ''charm'', seen as an alternative to the same old system and blinded by its anti-establishment ideals. Also in this case, Italians realize that the movement is just an opposition party, unable to lead the country.
Mr Bersani is scheduled to report back to Giorgio Napolitano, head of state, On Friday. Given the Democrats's failure to secure guarantees they would win a vote of confidence in the senate, Mr Napolitano is expected to launch a fresh round of consultations with all parties after the Easter break in his search for an alternative.
Mr Napolitano, 87, wants to avoid an early re-run of elections that risks producing similar deadlock.
Analysts suggest that the head of state would ask Mr Bersani to step aside and name another centre-left politician, possibly his deputy, Enrico Letta, as prime minister to lead a coalition government with the PDL. Angelino Alfano, secretary of the PDL, who is close to Mr Berlusconi, could be named as deputy prime minister. Other alternatives would be for Mr Napolitano to appoint a technocrat prime minister or to extend the term of Mario Monti's current caretaker until new elections are held.
By Guylain Gustave Moke
Photo-Credit AFP Mr Bersani