Italian president Giorgio Napolitano set to appoint new stop-gap prime minister

 

Italy looks set to get another stop-gap prime minister with the centre-left failing to get the backing of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) to form a government.

With little hope of any party or coalition obtaining a majority in both houses of parliament, head of state President Giorgio Napolitano indicated this evening that he would step in to appoint a prime minister of his own.

Precedent suggests that Mr Napolitano will choose the newly-appointed speaker of the Senate, the former anti-mafia magistrate Pietro Grasso, for the role.

But comments from the President’s spokesman suggested that he may meet with party leaders to sound out who might make the most acceptable stop-gap premier.

Mario Monti, the outgoing prime minister, was appointed by Mr Napolitano in November 2011 following the collapse of the last Berlusconi government.

A new caretaker premier would pursue a limited limited agenda, and pave the way for early elections  but probably with a new electoral law in place.

The dramatic development comes just hours after M5S leader Beppe Grillo suggested on his blog that the Italian parliament could operate without a government, simply by voting on law proposals on a piecemeal basis.

But Senate president Mr Grasso snapped back: “This country needs a government at all costs.”

Underlining this, new figures released today suggest the sclerotic Italian economy will continue to shrink in the first two quarters of 2013.

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