ROME, April 3 (Xinhua) -- Italian President Sergio Mattarella will start formal talks with Italy's political parties on Wednesday, exactly one month after a general election resulted in a hung parliament, the president's office said in a statement.
The inconclusive March 4 vote delivered two winners, the center-right bloc led by the right-wing and the anti-immigrant League party, which also includes former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, and the populist Five Star Movement.
Voters also handed a crushing defeat to the center-left Democratic Party of outgoing Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, consigning it to the opposition.
As head of state, Mattarella has the power to name a prime minister, dissolve parliament, and call elections.
After the first round of talks are held on Wednesday and Thursday, Mattarella will have several options: to give someone a mandate to form a government; to initiate a second round of formal talks; or to take time out for another period of informal talks, according to Italian news agency ANSA.
Mattarella must suss out whether the Five Stars and League parties can find enough common ground to form a stable government that can rule for the next five years.
League leader Matteo Salvini, whose party made huge gains in the wealthier northern part of Italy, and Five Star chief Luigi Di Maio, whose party made inroads in the impoverished south, both claim the right to be the next prime minister of Italy.
While the two leaders have made overtures to each other, one stumbling block is that the Five Stars, who pride themselves on being untainted by corruption and cronyism, object to Salvini's main ally, Berlusconi, who has a long list of corruption charges.
The media mogul was expelled from parliament in 2013 following a tax fraud conviction, and is currently on trial in at least two ongoing witness-tampering cases in connection with alleged orgies at his home while he was still prime minister.
Both election winners have pledged to crack down on immigration, roll back unpopular pension reforms, introduce drastic tax cuts and generous welfare measures, cut government waste, and break European Union (EU) rules on public spending if necessary.