( dpa ) - Italian president Giorgio Napolitano, ignoring pressure from opposition leaders to call snap elections, Wednesday handed the job of trying to form a new government to Franco Marini, Speaker of parliament's upper house, the Senate.
Napolitano said he had tasked Marini to "examine the possibility" of reforming Italy's electoral law and to form, as prime minister, a government that would supervise the process.
Napolitano's designation of Marini came six days after Romano Prodi resigned as prime minister following the defeat of his centre- left government in a Senate confidence vote.
Napolitano said Wednesday that dissolving Parliament and setting new elections - as demanded by the centre-right opposition led by Silvio Berlusconi - would have been a "grave decision".
"I now this is not a simple task... but I will act swiftly," Marini speaking at a joint late afternoon news conference with Napolitano at the presidential Quirinale Palace residence in Rome.
Marini is now expected to begin talks to try and piece together a cabinet that will win support in Parliament - a difficult prospect given previous statements by Berlusconi and others that they would accept nothing less than fresh elections.
Italy's current electoral system - introduced just before the April 2006 elections by the centre-right government of Berlusconi who was then premier - favours small parties and has been blamed for leaving the country with unstable governments.