The president said that a neutral government, which would be led by a nonpartisan figure and would likely include technocratic ministers chosen by him, would give the rival parties enough time to sort out their differences and possibly reach a deal on a coalition government.“I continue to aim at a government that is fully operational and that could fully represent Italy for the important decisions it needs to take in Europe,” Mattarella said after Monday’s last-ditch round of talks.Salvini and Di Maio both said fresh elections would help consolidate their support.A neutral government, however, faces strong opposition from the political parties that prevailed in March’s election: the 5Star Movement headed by Luigi Di Maio and the far-right League of Matteo Salvini. Both party leaders have said they won’t support a technocratic government and would rather hold new elections.That makes it likely that Mattarella won’t be able to win the parliamentary vote needed to put his new plan in place.If that happens, the president said, new elections in July or October would be inevitable, with all the negative consequences that would bring, including spooking the financial markets, as the country would be forced to postpone a budget law that could halt painful VAT hikes scheduled to come in later in the year. In a tweet, Salvini quashed the option of a “neutral government,” calling instead for a “brave government” or fresh elections. The 5Stars’ Di Maio tweeted that his party won’t give its support to a “technocratic government” and asked for new elections in July.Earlier Monday, Salvini and Di Maio both said fresh elections would help consolidate their support, and even mooted July 8 as a possible date for the vote.The center-left Democratic Party, headed by acting leader Maurizio Martina, is the only large political party that lent its support to the president’s plan.Mattarella said that if a “neutral” prime minister and his team don’t win a vote of confidence in parliament, they could still take charge to lead the country until the election.“This is quite a bold move by Mattarella, especially given the fact that he discarded the option of giving a mandate to Salvini to form a minority government,” said Wolfango Piccoli, head of consulting firm Teneo Intelligence. “Even if the president’s government fails to win a confidence vote, Mattarella would have managed to put into office a nonpartisan government that will take the country to snap elections.” Also On POLITICO Commission warns against political uncertainty in Italy By Jacopo Barigazzi Mario Monti: ‘Presidential government’ in Italy is mission impossible By Florian Eder ROME — Italy’s main parties’ fractious and fruitless attempts to form a government came to an end Monday as President Sergio Mattarella finally ran out of patience.Mattarella instead called on the rival factions to support a “neutral” government to lead the country at least until the end of the year.The president’s move, which ended two months of political negotiations since the March 4 elections, is aimed at avoiding fresh elections this summer or fall, when the country faces key international and domestic deadlines, including an EU summit in June and a budget law that has to be drafted in October.