The Latest: Italy’s president gives parties more time

International

The League party leader Matteo Salvini talks to the press after meeting Italian President Sergio Mattarella, in Rome, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. President Sergio Mattarella continued receiving political leaders Thursday, to explore if a solid majority with staying power exists in Parliament for a new government that could win the required confidence vote. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

ROME (AP) — The Latest on political developments as Italy tries to form new government (all times local):

8:25 p.m.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella says he has agreed to political leaders’ request for more time to see if a viable government can be formed to replace the one that collapsed this week.

Mattarella told reporters Thursday night in any case he wants a “clear solution in rapid time” as a “great nation like ours requires.”

He says party leaders told him they want to see if they can reach a deal, which would avoid an early election. He will hold another round of talks with them starting Tuesday.

Mattarella indicated that any new government must be solid enough to win a mandatory confidence vote in Parliament and have a comprehensive program of goals. Otherwise he will have to dissolve Parliament, paving the way for an election as early as this fall.

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7:35 p.m.

Italy’s 5-Star Movement party Luigi Di Maio says he is not scared by the prospect of an early election, but left the door open to negotiations on a possible “solid alliance” that would keep the current legislature alive.

After holding talks Thursday with President Sergio Mattarella, Di Maio signaled two alternative scenarios to solve the ongoing government crisis. One would be a possible new alliance with the center-left Democratic Party, the second a reconciliation with the right-wing League party led by Matteo Salvini, who two weeks ago pulled the plug on that shaky populist alliance.

Di Maio says “an early vote doesn’t scare us, but elections cannot be a way to escape from the promise we made to Italian citizens. We still have many things to do.”

Italy’s opposition Democrats signaled earlier Thursday they’re eager to work with the 5 Stars — their former archrivals — to cobble together a Europe-centric coalition solid enough to counter Salvini’s ascent to power and avoid an early vote.

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6 p.m.

The hard-line Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini is leaving the door open to a possible government reshuffle that could revive the collapsed coalition between his right-wing League party and the anti-establishment 5 Star Movement.

But he still insists that early elections are his favored outcome to Italy’s political crisis.

After meeting President Sergio Mattarella at the presidential palace on Thursday, Salvini hinted at a possible alternative to early elections. It appeared to be as a last-ditch attempt to revive the government alliance on which he pulled the plug only two weeks ago.

Salvini said to reporters: “I want to give the final word to people. But if someone wants to get the country moving again, we are ready to do so without prejudice,” he added, in a clear reference to his former allies.

Mattarella will complete a first round of talks Thursday with Italian parties to try to find a way out of the crisis. But he may provide them with more time to come up with possible alliances, as an alternative to early polls.

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12 p.m.

Italy’s opposition Democrats signaled their willingness Thursday to work with an archrival to cobble together a Europe-centric coalition solid enough to counter fast-rising nationalist leader Matteo Salvini and avoid an early election.

Intent on triggering that early election, Salvini yanked his right-wing League party’s support from Premier Giuseppe Conte’s populist government, triggering its collapse this week. The move was an apparent bid by Salvini to ride the crest of the rising popularity of the League and himself and capture the premiership.

That has left President Sergio Mattarella with the crucial task of sounding out political leaders before deciding whether to declare the end of the national legislature 3½ years early.

Salvini’s rival in the outgoing government, Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio of the populist 5-Star Movement, was to meet with Mattarella later Thursday. The outcome of that meeting was expected to indicate if the 5-Stars, Parliament’s biggest party, would entertain the Democrats’ overture to counter Salvini.

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