Italy's president has chosen center-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani to form a new government after national elections produced no clear winner. Any Italian government must receive a vote of confidence to be confirmed.
After two days of consultations with political leaders, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said Friday that Bersani (pictured above) was best positioned to create a government given "the most difficult circumstances."
"I have asked Bersani to verify whether he has the parliamentary support required to form a new government," Napolitano said. "He will report back to me as soon as possible."
"Today marks the start of a decisive phase in giving Italy a new government," Napolitano said, warning against "sterile delays" in a difficult road ahead.
"We can no longer ignore the spread of social unease and the expressions of dissatisfaction against political parties," he said, referring to the number of protest votes in the February 24-25 elections.
Bersani's coalition won control of the lower house in the February elections but not enough seats to control the Senate, creating a political gridlock.
"I will start immediately, " Bersani said. "I will take the time necessary in a very difficult situation," he said, adding that he would go into talks with the other parties "with few words but precise intentions on the road of reforms".
Bersani said he would "try to find balance" between changes sought by Italian voters and reforms needed to secure Italy's financial and political future. Italy is the eurozone's third largest economy and is currently struggling with a grinding recession.
His party currently holds 123 senate seats and hopes to gain the support of former premier Mario Monti's centrist party, which holds 18 seats. However, that would still leave him 17 seat short of a 158 senate majority.
Bersani has ruled out a coalition with scandal-ridden former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his center-right coalition, which finished second. The political movement founded by comic Beppe Grillo, which finished third, has ruled out supporting any established political force.
hc/rc (AFP, AP)