With Italy mired in post-election gridlock, Pier Luigi Bersani told Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Thursday that he has been unable to form a new government, state news agency ANSA reported.
Bersani fared the best in the February elections by leading a leftist coalition to a small majority in the lower house of parliament. But he was unable to win a majority in the Senate.
Instead, power in the Senate was divided between Bersani and the center-right coalition of his rival, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, which is anchored by his party, Popolo della Liberta, or People of Freedom.
Italy's parliamentary elections kick off Sunday, with polls suggesting the center-left - led by Pier Luigi Bersani - is on track to defeat controversial three-time prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.
But Berlusconi's rise in the polls in recent weeks, combined with widespread public disillusionment, means that nothing about the race is a foregone conclusion.
The two-day election is a four-horse race between political coalitions led by Bersani, Berlusconi, outgoing premier Mario Monti, and the anti-establishment movement led by ex-comedian Beppe Grillo.
Polls are banned within two weeks of the elections, but the most recent ones had Bersani holding onto a slender lead over Berlusconi. Grillow was a distant third.
[Updated at 10:35 a.m. ET] Italy's flamboyant former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was sentenced Friday to four years in prison for tax fraud.
Berlusconi is likely to appeal the sentence handed down by a court in Milan, Italy. The case involved his Mediaset group and the purchase of TV rights. Berlusconi, 76, resigned as prime minister in November over his country's debt crisis, bringing to an apparent end an 18-year era in which he dominated Italian politics. For more details about the case, check out this story.
Italian prosecutors Wednesday asked a court to sentence former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to five years in prison if he is found guilty of corruption charges.
Berlusconi is charged with bribing a British lawyer, David Mills, to secure favorable testimony in legal cases. Prosecutors requested prison time as they summed up their case against him Wednesday, and the three-judge court is expected to issue a verdict by late February.
The former premier's lawyers have argued that the statute of limitations in the case has expired, and Mills' conviction in the case was overturned in 2010. And even if convicted, the 75-year-old Berlusconi may never serve time due to appeals and his age - under Italian law, judges can suspend sentences for convicts over 70.
The 75-year-old Berlusconi dominated Italian politics for a decade and a half before resigning amid a financial crisis in November. He has survived a series of political, corruption and sex scandals over the years, involving allegations of embezzlement, tax fraud and bribery.
In addition to the Mills case, he also faces trial on charges that he hired an underage prostitute and later tried to pull strings to get her out of jail when she was arrested for theft.
Actor George Clooney and soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo could be called as witnesses in the trial of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on charges of sex with an underage prostitute, the court announced Wednesday.
Prosecutors allege Berlusconi paid for sex repeatedly with an underage prostitute and later tried to pull strings to get her out of jail when she was arrested for theft.
Berlusconi resigned earlier this month over his country's debt crisis, bringing to an apparent end an 18-year era in which he dominated Italian politics.
Prosecutors say Berlusconi had sex 13 times with underage dancer Karima el Mahroug, nicknamed "Ruby the heart-stealer."FULL STORY