efe-epaLaura Serrano-Conde Rome

Italian President Sergio Mattarella will charge caretaker Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte with forming a new government based on a coalition of the populist Five Star Movement and the center-left Democratic Party, officials said Wednesday.

Conte is scheduled to arrive at Quirinale Palace at 9.30 am Thursday for a meeting with Mattarella, presidential spokesman Giovanni Grasso said.

The caretaker premier will then assemble a list of prospective Cabinet ministers for Mattarella's approval.

Mattarella summoned Conte after hearing Wednesday that the Democrats (PD) and Five Star (M5S) had reached agreement to form a government led by the caretaker prime minister.

PD general secretary Nicola Zingaretti told Mattarella that his party was ready to join M5S in forming a solid, durable administration.

Conte, a member of M5S, became premier in June 2018 as the leader of a coalition between his party and the right-wing League.

That alliance was shattered when Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, the leader of the League, said early this month that his party could no longer govern Italy in coalition with M5S.

Salvini, followed up by bringing a no-confidence motion against Conte, who responded by resigning.

The League chief, who demands early elections, apparently expected the PD and M5S to fail to reach agreement on forming a government, as they did following the spring 2018 balloting.

But this time, the PD ultimately ceded to M5S on the issue of keeping Conte as prime minister, though they continue to argue over who will hold the post of deputy premier.

While M5S want to keep their leader, Luigi Di Maio, in the position, the PD says it should be able to nominate the deputy prime minister.

On substance, the PD's Zingaretti assured Mattarella that his party and M5S have found common ground on a program to spur economic growth that is compatible with protecting the environment and promotes social, generational and gender equality.

Di Maio, pointing out that M5S was the biggest vote-getter in the March 2018 general elections, said his party will not "shirk its responsibility" to help govern Italy.

The M5S leader offered "gratitude with sincerity" for an offer from the League to reconstitute the governing coalition with Di Maio as prime minister.

He added, however, that he declined the offer out of concern to do what was best for Italy.

Salvini, the biggest loser in the current situation, predicted Wednesday that a PD-M5S government would be short-lived. "The only thing they have in common is hatred against the League," he said. EFE