Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Friday asked centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani to see if he has enough support to form a government, and to report back to the head of state as soon as possible.
Because the centre-left had won the most seats in parliament in last month's election, Napolitano said he asked Bersani "to verify that he has a secure majority that can win confidence votes in both houses of parliament."
Bersani said he would seek to form a reform-minded government "with the maximum balance and determination."
No one emerged from the election with a workable majority in parliament. Bersani's bloc controls the lower house but not a majority of Senate seats, and both houses have equal legislative powers. Bersani is thought to have only slim chances of getting the agreement of other parties to support him in the Senate.
(Reporting by Steve Scherer; editing by Barry Moody)