Italy pols scramble to build alliances 2 month from vote

Italy's political parties are scrambling to solidify coalitions and find viable candidates, two months before March 4 parliamentary elections, working under a complicated new electoral law designed to improve governing stability.

Recent polls give the center-right the lead with around 40 percent of the vote. Ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi and the head of the anti-immigrant Northern League, Matteo Salvini, have had an initial phone call to discuss strategy and platforms ahead of a planned meeting next week.

Smaller parties, though, were still cobbling together alliances to put forward parliamentary candidates under the new voting system, which seeks to encourage stability and coalition-building but is posing problems for niche parties trying to go it alone.

The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement had its own problems after its online self-candidacy platform crashed.