Former prime minister and centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi says he is against the idea of a new technocratic government for Italy like that led by Mario Monti.
Instead, Silvio Berlusconi said he was ready to back a coalition with centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani, to end the deadlock since the February election.
However, Pier Luigi Bersani, whose bloc won a narrow lead in the polls, has ruled out a coalition with the right.
If no government is formed, new elections may be called.
The stalemate is delaying reforms which could help revive Italy’s recession-hit, debt-laden economy, which is the third-biggest in the eurozone.
Italy’s political establishment was rocked by the electoral success of a protest movement, Five Star, which won a quarter of the vote on a platform attacking the parties of both right and left.
Mario Monti’s technocratic government, formed in November 2011, remains in office until a new elected government is formed. He has said he “can’t wait” to leave office.
Speaking after talks with President Giorgio Napolitano, Silvio Berlusconi said he believed there was scope for agreement on action to address the economic crisis.
Silvio Berlusconi said he would back a coalition made up of the left, right and centre.
Any new government must be made up of political parties, “given the tragic experience” of the Monti government, the People of Freedom party leader said.
Silvio Berlusconi’s ally Roberto Maroni, leader of the right-wing Northern League, also rejected another technocratic government, saying it would be better to hold another election.
Recent opinion polls suggest Silvio Berlusconi and Roberto Maroni have, between them, a narrow lead over the centre-left.
Pier Luigi Bersani has already tried and failed to form a new government, whether as a coalition or as a minority government.
“Only a mentally ill person could have a burning desire to govern right now,” he said on Wednesday at a meeting with Five Star politicians.
Five Star, led by former comedian Beppe Grillo, has made clear it will not back any government led by either the centre-left or centre-right.
Beppe Grillo posted an entry on his blog this week in which he called mainstream politicians including Silvio Berlusconi and Pier Luigi Bersani “old whoremongers”.