Italian president sets last-ditch talks on forming new govt

ROME — Italy's president has summoned the country's bickering political leaders to a single day of talks on Monday to seek a way out of a two-month political impasse.

President Sergio Mattarella's office said Thursday that the latest round of talks to develop a government coalition between the populist 5-Star Movement and the center-left Democratic Party had "faded." He said after five rounds of talks "no prospective of a government majority has emerged."

Reports have suggested that Mattarella could resort to appointing a "truce" government to lead Italy through 2018 to pass the budget, and hold a new election in 2019.

A center-right coalition won 37 percent of Italy's March 4 vote and the anti-establishment, populist 5-Stars nabbed 32 percent. But the 5-Stars have refused to govern with ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia, a key member of the center-right coalition.

The other main center-right force, the anti-immigrant, populist League party, had entertained a possible alliance with the 5-Stars. But League leader Matteo Salvini refused to break with Berlusconi, and of late has been locked in a war of words with 5-Star leader Luigi di Maio.

The Democratic Party, for its part, has fractured between forces willing to negotiate with the 5-Stars and those loyal to ex-Premier Matteo Renzi, who has ruled out any deal. A party meeting on Thursday was expected to lay those divisions bare.

Mattarella's office said the single day of talks Monday would "try to see if the parties have other perspectives for a governing majority."

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