Acting on the request by President Giorgio Napolitano, Democratic Party secretary Pier Luigi Bersani has begun negotiations in order to try to form a Government.
His efforts look doomed, however.
Both Mr Berlusconi and Mr Grillo, the men who control two thirds of the Senate, have become more and more aggressive and uncompromising in the last hours.
Mr Bersani’s own party has suddenly split, with a faction recommending a full-fledged alliance with Mr Berlusconi, something Mr Bersani wants to avoid since it would alienate his electors.
Being clearly pessimistic on the outcome of the negotiations, the Italian Industries’ Association sent a dramatic message to politicians. Its President, Mr Giorgio Squinzi, stated: ‘We’re running out of time, we’re just approaching the end’.