Italian President Sergio Mattarella has given House Speaker Roberto Fico an exploratory mandate to verify whether the same governing majority that existed before Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned on Jan. 26 is still workable.
In a brief televised statement, Fico thanked Mattarella for entrusting him with the job of sounding out the members of the preceding government coalition -- the center-left Democratic Party, the Five Star Movement, and the centrist Italia Viva party led by Matteo Renzi, a former prime minister.
Mattarella has given Fico until Tuesday to report back to him, the president's office said.
Renzi pulled his support from the government earlier this month in disagreement over its handling of the pandemic and of multi-billion-euro EU funding for Italy, prompting a government crisis.
Mattarella's decision came after three days of talks with all of Italy's political parties.
"Italy like all countries everywhere in the world is facing new and dangerous offensives from the pandemic," the president said in a brief televised statement.
The pandemic has caused "severe" health, social and economic emergencies, "which can only be tackled by a speedy and effective use of the significant resources made available by the European Union," he said.
"Therefore we must soon give rise to a government with adequate support in parliament in order not to leave our country exposed to events at this critical time," he said.
After Fico reports back next week, it will be up to the president to decide the next step. He may give Conte another mandate to form a government, or he may give a mandate to someone else.