Italy's centre left in shock, says no to new vote
Winner in House has 'duty to make first proposals' - Letta26 February, 00:00
It was also ahead in partial results for the Senate, although some projections said ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right alliance would be the biggest bloc there once all the votes are counted.
Neither coalition was destined to have a working majority in the Upper House though, no matter who comes first. "The shock and the pain are in all of our souls," said Laura Puppato, a parliamentary candidate for main centre-left Democratic Party (PD) who unsuccessfully ran in the primaries to head the whole coalition. Enrico Letta, a PD bigwig, said that "the hypothesis of another early election would not be the solution" to the stalemate.
He also suggested that the centre left should be first in line to form the country's next government.
"The coalition that wins the House has the duty to make the first proposals to the head of state," he said.
Letta added that the election's inconclusive outcome presented huge dangers for the eurozone's third largest economy, which is in recession but has emerged from the financial crisis it was in when outgoing premier Mario Monti took the helm of an emergency technocrat government after Silvio Berlusconi was forced to resign in November 2011. "We are faced with a crisis that will be long, complex and we'll have to go through it step by step," said Letta. "If we don't take lots of steps all together, there's a risk of falling and the future of Italy is at stake.
"Having a Senate with no majority is a situation at the limit that has never been seen before in Italy".