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EXPLAINER-Italian president seen asking Conte to form new govt. What comes next?

Gavin Jones

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ROME, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Italy's President Sergio Mattarella is expected to give outgoing Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte a mandate to form a new government backed by a coalition of the 5-Star Movement and the Democratic Party (PD), after he meets with party chiefs on Wednesday.

After tense talks, the traditionally antagonistic parties agreed that Conte should head their nascent alliance after hard-right leader Matteo Salvini brought down the previous coalition of his League party and 5-Star.

Here is a timeline of what may come next:

WHEN WILL THE PRESIDENT GIVE CONTE A MANDATE?

Mattarella's party consultations end with his meeting with 5-Star at 17:00 GMT. He is expected to summon Conte to his palace either shortly after that meeting, or early on Thursday, to ask him to form a government.

WHEN WILL THE GOVERNMENT BE FORMED?

Conte will accept the mandate and tell Mattarella he will return when he has drawn up his list of ministers. This is likely to take several days, during which Conte will also put together the outline of a policy agenda for his new coalition of the anti-establishment 5-Star and the centre-left PD.

WHEN WILL THE GOVERNMENT BE OPERATIONAL?

Assuming Mattarella has no objections to any of Conte's ministers, they should be sworn in at the president's palace next week. After that, Conte will need to face a confidence vote in both houses of parliament.

ARE THERE STILL HURDLES?

Yes. The negotiations between 5-Star and the PD have been rushed and fraught with squabbles. There is still room for disputes over cabinet posts and a common programme, as the parties have sharply different ideas on many areas from justice reform to economic policy.

5-STAR'S ONLINE VOTE

5-Star announced on Tuesday it would put its proposed coalition with the PD to a vote of its members, in line with the movement's credo of direct democracy.

This vote, to be held on its internet platform dubbed Rousseau, could potentially scupper the whole deal, as many 5-Star supporters view the PD as the symbol of a corrupt Italian establishment that 5-Star was set up to fight.

Opinion polls of 5-Star voters suggest the outcome could be close and much may depend on how the question is worded.

5-Star said the vote will take place after it and the PD have drawn up a common programme but before Conte returns to Mattarella with his list of ministers to be sworn in.

(Reporting By Gavin Jones; Editing by Jon Boyle)