President and PM seek to form new coalition as crisis continues


President Giorgio Napolitano and Prime Minister Enrico Letta met yesterday afternoon to discuss the current political crisis after Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party walked out of the government on Saturday.

The president has made it clear that he will try everything possible to secure a new government rather than go to a fresh election; it would be the second this year with little sign that it would be any more conclusive than the February vote.

Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD) is secure in the lower house or Chamber of Deputies where their four party alliance, ‘Italy, Common Good’ holds 345 of the 630 seats.

The problem is the upper house or Senate which holds as much legislative power as the lower house and where the PD alliance is in the minority with 123 of the 315 seats. That means they need to find an additional 36 seats from somewhere to secure a majority without the PdL. They are unlikely to find any support from the Northern League (LN) with its 18 seats or Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement (M5S) with its 54 seats.

That means intense discussions with former technocrat Prime Minister Mario Monti’s ‘With Monti for Italy’ to secure their 19 seats. The President and Prime Minister are also hoping that they can find dissenters within the PdL. There were signs over the weekend that the decision to withdraw from the government had not been discussed with the party and that cracks were appearing in the solidarity of the party.

Another solution might be a minority government but with the tacit support of several parties outside the government on a tightly negotiated programme.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Enrico Letta has decided to go to parliament on Wednesday to seek a confidence vote for his government.

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