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Renzi consults with PD, Berlusconi and possibly Grillo

Govt could be ready by weekend

19 February, 10:35
Renzi consults with PD, Berlusconi and possibly Grillo (ANSA) - Rome, February 19 - Matteo Renzi was continuing his ascent to become the youngest premier in Italian history on Wednesday, meeting with leaders from the biggest parties in parliament, starting with three-time premier Silvio Berlusconi. The consultation in parliament offices marked the Forza Italia chief's first trip back to the building since being ejected from the Senate last year over a binding Supreme Court conviction for tax fraud. Berlusconi has already confirmed his center-right party will mount a "responsible opposition" to a government run by Renzi, head of the center-left Democratic Party (PD). Later in the day, the charismatic 39-year-old will consult with his own party, the biggest in parliament, less than a week after convincing it to unseat one of its own, Premier Enrico Letta, for allegedly not moving swiftly enough to enact electoral and economic reforms. Renzi will likely also meet with Beppe Grillo, head of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), after members of the second-largest single party in parliament voted surprisingly by a narrow margin in an online vote to participate in government-formation talks late Tuesday. Grillo, a comic-turned-politician, has called the consultations a 'farce', and is likely to use the talks as a platform to express his opposition to a Renzi premiership, the third in a row without elections, and the fourth in just over two years. Such was the case Tuesday in Renzi's consultations with the left-wing SEL party and the right-wing Northern League. But another small party, the New Center Right of sitting Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, was heartened by SEL's refusal to join, and said it would support a Renzi executive if the center right was "given a voice". Alfano's support could be key to tipping the scales in favor of a governing majority for Renzi. Regional Affairs Minister Graziano Delrio, a key Renzi loyalist, said Tuesday's consultations "went well" and that a government "will be ready by the weekend".