Napolitano enters talks with 'big three' party leaders
Grillo, Bersani, Berlusconi mull forming a government21 March, 10:35
The head of state was first meeting with 5-Star Movement (M5S) leader Beppe Grillo, whose anti-establishment group holds the balance of power in parliament after capturing a huge protest vote.
Later he was scheduled to meet centre-left head Pier Luigi Bersani and ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi of the center-right coalition. Bersani, whose alliance came first in the election but failed to win a working majority in the Senate, has said he will ask Napolitano to give him the mandate to form a new government.
But at the moment he appears unlikely to be able to present an administration capable of winning a confidence vote in the Senate.
Bersani has ruled out forming a grand coalition with Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party and the ex-premier's centre-right alliance, which came a close second last month.
He is trying to reach out to the M5S, even though Grillo considers Bersani's Democratic Party (PD) part of a corrupt, malfunctioning system that he wants to revolutionise and has responded to the overtures with insults.
These have included Grillo describing Bersani as a "dead man talking".