Stumped Mattarella admits to no progress

ROME – Italian President Sergio Mattarella acknowledged a second week of defeat in a closing statement to end another round of inconclusive government-formation consultations. Following meetings with institutional figures on Friday, Mattarella will take a few days to gauge a route out of the current stalemate, which was only solidified on Thursday as Silvio Berlusconi dramatically criticised the M5S’s credentials to uphold democracy.

 The Italian President met with institutional figures on Friday to wrap up round two of formal consultations. The discussions involved former Head of State Giorgio Napolitano, with experience in resolving past political crises, Lower House Speaker Roberto Fico, and Senate Speaker Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati.

 Napolitano highlighted the “very delicate work” which the Italian President was trying to carry out, but neither Fico, nor Casellati made statements as they left the Quirinal Palace.

 Mattarella underlined the importance of finding agreements at the earliest possible moment, revealing his frustration that the parties made no progress after stressing to them “the need for our country to have a government in the fullness of its powers.”

 The infuriation surrounding the M5S’s persistent “tactics and vetoes” was emphasised on Thursday as tensions hit a steep incline. Mattarella’s consultations with Forza Italia were followed by a forceful response from Berlusconi who barged in, pushing past Brothers of Italy’s Giorgia Meloni, to grab the microphone and tell Italians that the M5S “doesn't know the ABC of democracy.”

 The leader of the anti-establishment M5S, Luigi Di Maio, reiterated on Thursday the party’s stance that there is a burning need for a “government of change.” This, he said, would be made “impossible” by the inclusion of Forza Italia.

 For the M5S, the three-time former Prime Minister embodies the political corruption they seek to expel from government and Berlusconi’s fiery reaction appears to have pushed a potential coalition between the M5S and centre-right a set backwards.

 Mattarella, it seems, is no longer willing to endure the lack of progress and may seek to give an “exploratory mandate” to a centre-right politician, political commentators said, as he looks to solve the ongoing political puzzle.

 The “explorer” would be expected to proceed with informal soundings, acting as a delegate of the president. The League’s deputy leader and Lower House Whip, Giancarlo Giorgetti, has been tipped as a potential candidate.

 However, Matteo Salvini, leader of the League, met the proposal with little enthusiasm, saying that it would be comparable to “asking someone to go looking for votes that are not there.”

 He added that the interruptions to the formation of government were hurting the Italian population. Salvini noted that “the demand for change that emerged from the elections,” which was strongly emphasised in the M5S campaign, will not be met if Di Maio persists in his rigid stance.

 Whilst acknowledging the vast differences between the two parties, Salvini called on FI and the M5S to stop their bickering or return to the polls, emphasising that the League are ready to form a government.