Italian senate speaker Casellati to explore government possibilities

Casellati must “verify existence of majority between centre-right and M5S”

Senate speaker Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati of Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party has been asked to see if she can get the centre-right coalition led by Matteo Salvini of the anti-immigrant and euroskeptic Lega and the anti-establishment Movimento Cinque Stelle (M5S) to agree on forming a government.

She received the so-called exploratory mandate from President Sergio Mattarella on 18 April in a bid to end the political deadlock that has gripped Italy since inconclusive general elections on 4 March, after two rounds of government-formation talks proved to be unsuccessful.

The Lega – the largest party in the centre-right coalition, which collectively took 37 per cent – and M5S – the biggest single party in parliament with 32 per cent – have been bickering over the presence of Forza Italia in a coalition government.

M5S prime ministerial candidate, 32-year-old Luigi Di Maio, is refusing to dialogue with Salvini unless he drops his allegiance with Berlusconi.

So far, the Lega leader has refused.

Now Casellati, a lawyer by profession and considered extremely close to Berlusconi, has been given the task of "verifying the existence of a parliamentary majority between the parties of the centre-right coalition and the M5S".

She has been asked to report back on 20 April.

However, Lega senate whip Gian Marco Centinaio said achieving a result “would be a miracle”.