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Debt-laden Italy struggles to find stable government

ROME — Trying to break through weeks of political gridlock, Italy’s president began sounding out parliamentary leaders Wednesday to see if they can form a new government or if another election must be called.

February’s national election revealed deep political anger in Italy and left few options for creating a coalition government tough enough to enact the economic reforms Italy needs to get it out of a stubborn recession. Italy is the eurozone’s third-largest economy and has a massive government debt of about $2.6 trillion.

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President Giorgio Napolitano started two days of talks to find a way out of the impasse. If he finds no plausible prospects of a coalition with a workable majority in Parliament, a new election — perhaps as early as summer — might be the result.

But the political leaders who talked with Napolitano on Wednesday said he is determined to exhaust all efforts to form a government.

Center-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani emerged from the election with a comfortable majority in the lower chamber, but his forces need support from other parties to control the Senate.

Bersani has rejected an offer from his rival, former premier Silvio Berlusconi, to join with the media mogul’s conservative forces.

Bersani is insisting that as the largest vote-getter, he should be tapped to form a government.

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