Italian president tries to find key to undo political gridlock so new government can be formed

Italy's president is sounding out parliamentary leaders to see if there are solid prospects for forming a new government, weeks after inconclusive elections left the nation in political deadlock.

Fresh elections could soon be called if President Giorgio Napolitano, after consultations on Wednesday and Thursday, decides no one can muster a reliable enough majority in Parliament to enact the economic and electoral reforms needed to pull Italy out of recession and improve future prospects for stable governments.

February's election gave center-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani a comfortable majority in the lower Chamber of Deputies but left his forces needing support from other parties to control the Senate. He has rejected Silvio Berlusconi's offer to form a "grand coalition" government. The third bloc is the populist newcomer 5-Star Movement.