According to Italian constitutional custom, when a new Parliament is elected the President will summon the leaders of the parties in order to understand who he can appoint as prime minister.
If the result of the elections is clear-cut, this will be largely a formality. But in the current occasion, it will be much more than that, a mammoth effort for a man who, like Giorgio Napolitano, is going into retirement.
The situation is hopelessly confused.
The theoretical winner, the Democratic Party, ruled out an alliance with Berlusconi’s party and tried instead to court the Five Stars Movement. The latter, however, looked adamant in refusing.
Therefore the Democratic Party leader, Mr Bersani, prepared an unlikely plan B, based on the support by the small parliamentary entourage of incumbent prime minister Mario Monti and by the Northern League, currently an ally of Mr Berlusconi.
But yesterday the newly-appointed spokesperson of the Five Stars Movement, Mr Claudio Messora, said that his party could accept a prime minister who, while not being a member of the Movement, is not a member of any other party either.
What will the President do ? In 2011, he showed his preference for a technocratic Government. Since no party controls the Senate, he could propose the same option again. Probably it would be no more an economy-oriented technocratic Government, however: the public opinion would hardly stomach this after clearly showing its dislike for Mr Monti in the polls. It would be more likely a Government made of citizens widely renowned in fields different than economy and finance, like the new Presidents of the Chambers: a high-ranking judge and a UN officer.