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#Berlusconi denies he may take step back to let #Italy form government

#Berlusconi denies he may take step back to let #Italy form government”

President Sergio Mattarella urged Italy's parliament to back a "neutral" caretaker government until the end of the year after no party seized control in March's election.

Salvini, who has mostly campaigned on an anti-immigration platform, could potentially take the role of interior minister with Di Maio as foreign minister.

LONDON, May 10 (Reuters) - Italian government bond yields rose to seven-week highs on Thursday on growing expectations that anti-establishment parties will take power in the euro zone's third largest economy.

Salvini responded by thanking Berlusconi, saying "we must now work on the program, timings, the team and the things we have to do". "Either we reach a conclusion, or we return to the voters".

In a joint statement after meeting on Thursday, Mr Di Maio and Mr Salvini described a "positive climate to define the government's agenda and priorities" and said "technical" meetings among staff would begin in the afternoon.

After Mattarella names a prime minister seen as being outside any party structure, that person then applies the same standard in compiling a list of potential cabinet members.

Both groups fell well short of a majority and although 5-Star says it is willing to hook up with the League, it has refused to deal with the scandal-plagued Berlusconi, seeing him as a symbol of political corruption.

It wasn't immediately clear, though, if the 5-Stars and League had the votes to win a confidence vote in both houses of the Italian Parliament. He said his party would "loyally support" laws in line with the center-right's program.

"We are continuing to ask Berlusconi to make a gesture of responsibility and help us give this country a government", said senior League politician Giancarlo Giorgetti, indicating he wanted Forza Italia to agree to sit out of a government deal.

"There is a high risk (80 percent) that Mattarella's call on the rival political parties to support a "neutral" government will go unheard", Wolfgango Piccoli, co-president of Teneo Intelligence, said in a note Monday. "This coalition was the most feared by markets even before the vote, given their anti-establishment views, and market impact has been limited by their less extreme views on the euro and Europe since their campaign, but the impact may only emerge in the longer term".

Over the weekend the M5S leader, Luigi Di Maio and League chief Matteo Salvini seemed to have made some progress but after a new round of consultations with the president Monday, deadlock appeared insurmountable.

Salvini repeated Wednesday that a "prerequisite" of the talks with the 5-Stars was the center-right coalition remaining united. Berlusconi himself is barred from holding public office until next year because of a 2013 tax-fraud conviction.

The political stalemate brought the prospect of yet another election, as soon as July, but in the past several days Five Star and the League rejoined in a last-ditch effort to prevent another vote. "We are going to vote in July".

Bloomberg's Chiara Albanese contributed.



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