Two-Thirds of Italians Oppose Returning to Ballot Box: Poll

Members of a polling station count the ballot papers after the closure of the polls for the Italian General Election.
Marco Secchi | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Members of a polling station count the ballot papers after the closure of the polls for the Italian General Election.

Two-thirds of Italians oppose returning to the ballot boxes after last month's national election left the country in limbo with no political force holding enough seats to form a government, according to a poll published on Wednesday.

The center-left coalition led by Pier Luigi Bersani won control of the lower house, but not the Senate in the Feb. 24-25 vote. Both are needed to govern.

Bersani has since made repeated overtures to the ati-establishment 5-Star Movement for support in the Senate, all of which have been rejected by the bloc's leader, comic Beppe Grillo, raising the specter of a snap vote.

Half of Italians said the best solution for the current gridlock would be a government led by Bersani and backed by the 5-Star Movement, an IPR Marketing poll said.

A third of respondents said another technocrat government like the one that caretaker Prime Minister Mario Monti has led since November 2011 would be the best way to avoid an immediate election, the poll showed.

A technocrat government would require right-left support in parliament, and would presumably exclude the 5-Star Movement.

Financial markets are watching how Italy, the euro zone's third-biggest economy, manages the political impasse.

Italy's three-year borrowing costs rose to their highest since December in a Wednesday auction after Fitch cut its rating on the country's debt last week, citing the inconclusive election result.

The slowness of the institutional process that has followed the vote has amplified the sense of confusion.

Parliament will sit on Friday for the first time since the elections, now almost three weeks ago, and consultations with President Giorgio Napolitano on the formation of a government do not start until next week.

Napolitano has said that Italy must have a government, indicating that he will do all he can to avoid another vote, but it will be his successor, who parliament must elect by May 15, who will ultimately decide.

Bersani has ruled out any accord with center-right leader Silvio Berlusconi, whose scandal-tainted government fell at the height of the euro zone debt crisis in 2011, saying a deal with the media billionaire would not be "credible or feasible".

Instead Bersani has sought 5-Star support for an eight-point platform, ranging from stimulating growth in Italy's economy to cutting bureaucracy and cracking down on corruption.

Grillo has ridiculed Bersani as a "dead man talking", saying he would resign as the movement's "guarantor", he refuses the moniker of leader, if lawmakers turned on him and voted to support any government led by traditional parties in a confidence vote.

The 5-Star Movement scored a shock by becoming the country's single-biggest party and putting 163 political novices in parliament, mainly by promising to boot the old and corrupt parties out of power.

But even 5-Star voters also fear gridlock and the prospect of another vote, with 73 percent saying they preferred the formation of a government to a snap vote, the IPR poll showed.

Fifty-eight percent of 5-Star voters said they would prefer a Bersani-led government backed by the movement to a "technical" administration that excluded it.

The survey was done on March 12 and is based on interviews with 1,000 people.