Premier Mario Monti started meetings with the leaders of the three main parties supporting his emergency government for talks on measures to combat the eurozone crisis and the pressure Italy's bonds are coming under on the money markets.
The premier met Pier Luigi Bersani of the centre-left Democratic Party early on Wednesday and saw Angelino Alfano, the secretary of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party, later in the day.
He will meet Pier Ferdinando Casini of the centrist UDC on Thursday. "We reflected together on a very, very worrying general situation," Bersani said after his meeting. "There is a need to follow up on the decisions made at the European summit and for a state of alert by all the institutions". European leaders agreed on a number of measures to combat the eurozone crisis at a summit late in June, including plans to allow EU rescue funds to be used to support the bonds of countries facing soaring borrowing costs. This mechanism, the so-called spread shield, has been thrown in doubt after the governments of the Netherlands and Finland expressed reservations.
Bersani added that he had asked to changes to parts of the government's plans to save 26 billion euros over the next three years after conducting a review of public spending. "We talked about spending review and I pointed out that there are things that we support and we want to strengthen, and two to three points on health and regional governments (that must change)", Bersani said. "We hope that on a couple of points there is very careful consideration".
Alfano said he "reiterated to the premier that the PdL will support the government until its term ends (next year)", deflating speculation that the crisis could bring about early elections in the autumn. Monti is also thought to have encouraged the leaders to find an agreement for a new electoral law to replace the much-criticised current system in time for next year's elections.
The PdL and PD blamed each other for the impasse on Wednesday.