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Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani, whose coalition won the February 24-25 election but fell short of a majority in Senate, has refused the offer of a “grand coalition” with ex-prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PDL) party.

He has said he will instead try to get the backing of the Five Star Movement (M5S), the surprise success of the election.

Its leader Beppe Grillo dropped his usual confrontational tone and said the party will decide on a “case by case” basis, as is already happening in Sicily, where M5S has backed some measures taken by the regional government, though it is not part of its majority.