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Italy Democrats Back Lower House Head Fico as Next PM: Reports

Chiara Albanese
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Italy Democrats Back Lower House Head Fico as Next PM: Reports

(Bloomberg) -- Italy’s Democratic Party is willing to back Lower House speaker Roberto Fico, a member of the Five Star Movement, to become the next prime minister, a move that could help seal a deal between the parties to form a new government.

Fico, 44, would be an acceptable choice for Nicola Zingaretti, the head of the Democrats, to lead a new government coalition, newspapers including Corriere della Sera and la Repubblica reported Sunday.

Luigi Di Maio’s Five Star and the Democrats have been given until Tuesday by President Sergio Mattarella to work out a government deal that would spare the country a new election. So far, the name of the next premier has been one of the main roadblocks in the talks.

While Five Star has pushed to give a new mandate to outgoing Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Zingaretti has insisted on a new leader as a condition for his backing. “Italy needs a government of change” that breaks with the past, the Democrats said in a party statement Saturday.

In a call between the two party leaders Sunday, Di Maio reiterated to Zingaretti that in his view Conte remains at the moment the only option for premiership, according to Ansa. The news agency also reported during the day that Fico is at the moment interested in keeping his post as head of the Lower House.

Conte resigned earlier this week after League leader Matteo Salvini pulled out of his 14-month alliance with Five Star and toppled the government in a bid to force new elections and capitalize on a surge in voters’ support. A deal between Five Star and the Democrats would end the threat of a new election, at least temporarily.

Speaking at summit of Group of Seven leaders in Biarritz, France, Saturday evening, Conte said that he didn’t expect to return as premier. He also added that any further dealings with the League party was a non-starter.

The League has been sliding in the first polls published after Salvini triggered the government’s collapse. A survey by Scenari Politici published by Il Sole 24 Ore Sunday found support for the anti-migrant party fell to 33.7% on August 25, from 38.9% on July 30.

(Updates with Fico intentions to stary, Di Maio call with Zingaretti.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Chiara Albanese in Rome at calbanese10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net, Andrew Davis, Dylan Griffiths

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