Italy looks likely to call an election by mid-April, after efforts to end its political crisis ended in failure. Senate speaker Franco Marini has given up trying to form an interim government. He has been unable to find enough cross-party support for efforts to change voting rules.
The country’s electoral system has been widely blamed for its political instability. Romano Prodi’s administration collapsed last month when he lost a parliamentary confidence vote, following defections from his coalition.
Centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi has repeated his call for an election as soon as possible. Riding high in opinion polls, he hopes to return to the office of prime minister he has held twice before.
But Walter Veltroni, Prodi’s heir as centre-left leader, had hoped for a delay in calling a new ballot.
He has denounced what he calls “rushing towards elections with a flawed law” and says there is a high risk the result will be “varied and confused coalitions, made up of many parties.”
Italy’s president had favoured changing voting rules first. But Giorgio Napolitano now appears to have little choice but to dissolve parliament and call an election.