Center-right head Silvio Berlusconi said after meeting President Giorgio Napolitano on Friday that a grand coalition between his People of Freedom (PdL) and the center-left Democratic Party (PD) was the only solution to impasse in the formation of Italy's government.
The next government "must be a political one, given the tragic experience of the caretaker cabinet" of outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti which introduced austerity measures that have deepened the Italian recession, Berlusconi told journalists following talks with Napolitano.
Napolitano was holding another round of consultations after Pier Luigi Bersani, the head of the center-left who was given an exploratory mandate last week, reported back fruitless results on Thursday.
Berlusconi said that his party was available to agree with other political forces on the urgent reforms needed to tackle the country's difficult economic situation. "We are ready to accept a candidacy of Bersani as well as candidacies of others," he said.
The three-time premier has repeatedly tried to persuade the PD to agree to a broad alliance, but Bersani has refused the PdL request on selecting, in return, the next president when Napolitano's term expires in May.
The center-left coalition, which has a majority in the lower house but not in the Senate, fell short of the support it would need to govern, after it failed in reaching an agreement with the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement (M5S) which is the third biggest force in parliament.
If no consensus emerges by the end of the day, Napolitano may propose a so-called "government of the president" led by a trusted person able to carry out a series of reforms including changing a criticized voting law to produce a stronger winner.