Italian President Giorgio Napolitano opened consultations Friday
on the government crisis brought out by the resignation of Premier
A timetable issued by Napolitano's office indicated that
consultations will wind up on Tuesday.
Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano (L)
leaves a judicial year ceremony with caretaker Primier Romano Prodi
at Quirinale Palace in Rome Jan. 25, 2008. Napolitano opened
consultations Friday on the government crisis brought out by the
resignation of Romano Prodi. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
Napolitano opened his consultations by meeting first with Senate
Speaker Franco Marini, a prime candidate to head an interim
Friday also saw the president confer with Lower House Speaker
Fausto Bertinotti and later with representatives from the
independent caucuses, first from the Senate and then from the Lower
On Saturday Napolitano will talk to Italy's many smaller
parties, including the Udeur, splinter groups from the once
powerful Christians Democrat and Socialist parties, the Greens and
those representing local interests and ethnic minorities.
On Monday the president will tackle the bigger parties starting
with the devolutionist Northern League, then the UDC, the Communist
Refoundation party and right-wing National Alliance.
The final day of Napolitano's consultations will begin with
Forza Italia and then the new Democratic Party, born during the
legislature through the merger of the Democratic Left and the
centrist Daisy party.
Napolitano will wind up his consultations by conferring
individually with his predecessors: Francesco Cossiga, Oscar Luigi
Scalfaro and Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.
Italian Premier Romano Prodi joins his hands,
prior to a confidence vote in the Senate, in Rome, Jan. 24,
In other developments, Prodi ruled out any possibility of
heading an interim government.
His statements appeared to be a reply to leftist elements in his
ex-coalition who said they would only back an interim executive if
Prodi was at the helm.
Prodi resigned Thursday after he lost a confidence vote in the
Senate due to defections in his coalition, primarily by his former
Justice Minister Clemente Mastella and his small, centrist Udeur
Because the center left no longer has a majority in parliament,
Napolitano has two basic options. He can either dissolve parliament
and call early elections, or he can ask an institutional figure
above the political fray to form an interim government which will
adopt needed reforms, especially to the voting system, before
In the past, Napolitano has made it clear he preferred electoral
reform before elections.
At present most of the center right is in favor of early
elections, hoping to ride the political wave of Prodi's downfall,
while in the center left there is more support for an interim
However, there are divisions in both the left and right, as well
as within individual parties, on which option would be best.
Pier Ferdinando Casini, leader of the opposition centrist
Catholic UDC party, has proposed what he calls a "government of
national responsibility", which would involve all major parties, to
tackle the nation's problems.
If this is not possible, then elections are preferable, he said
Italian former Premier Silvio Berluconi, the head of the Forza
Italian party and probable center-right candidate for premier,
reiterated on Friday that he wanted snap elections with the current
election law, which he forced through at the end of the last
The latest polls indicate that over 50 percent Italians are
opposed to elections without electoral reform, a view shared by the
country's unions and employers.
(Xinhua News Agency January 26, 2008)