Italy opposition right calls for elections to solve political crisis

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ROME (Reuters) - Italy's rightist opposition parties called for early elections on Friday as the way to solve the country's political crisis, following the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Conte, now acting as caretaker, was unseated when former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party from the coalition, depriving it of a parliamentary majority and throwing Italy into political limbo during the coronavirus crisis.

"We confirmed to the president our request that he consider the option of dissolving parliament and calling elections," League leader Matteo Salvini told reporters after formal consultations with the head of state Sergio Mattarella.

Mattarella will complete three days of consultations with parties later on Friday, with Italians waiting to hear what kind of solution he may have found.

Conte, still backed by the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and the centre-left Democratic Party, is hoping to get a fresh mandate, but the prospect is far from certain unless he patches up his rupture with Renzi.

Conte's attempts to lure unaligned and opposition senators to the government's ranks to restore his majority have so far had little apparent success.

Salvini, representing a right-wing alliance of parties, hinted at a risk of a future split in the bloc, saying if Mattarella should try to install a government without elections each party would take its own decision on how to respond.

Mattarella could ask a new candidate with more parliamentary backing than Conte to try to form a government or meet Salvini's request for snap elections two years ahead of schedule. Most analysts believe he will only do this as a last resort.

(Reporting by Angelo Amante, writing by Gavin Jones, editing by Crispian Balmer)