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Italian President Asks Senate Speaker to Look into Forming New Government


Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has asked the speaker of the country's Senate to look into the possibility of forming an interim government to reform electoral laws before calling new parliamentary elections.

Italian officials say Mr. Napolitano presented the request to Franco Marini after talks with leaders of all Italian political parties. The talks were aimed at resolving a political crisis following the resignation of Prime Minister Romano Prodi.

Mr. Napolitano met Tuesday with conservative opposition leader Silvio Berlusconi, who has called for immediate parliamentary elections.

The president, a leftist, is said to be leaning instead toward establishing an interim government that would reform electoral laws before a poll is held.

He also met with another leading politician, Democratic Party leader and Rome's Mayor Walter Veltroni, who says he proposed a transitional government and no elections before early 2009, to allow for political reform.

Prime Minister Prodi stepped down last week following the collapse of his fragile center-left coalition, after a small party withdrew its support.

Mr. Berlusconi has vowed to organize street protests if the vote is not called. Recent polls show the conservative leader holding as much as a 10 percent lead over Mr. Prodi.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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