ROME (AFP) - Rightwing heavy-weight Silvio Berlusconi on Friday (April 20) labelled the anti-establishment Five Star Movement "a danger to Italy", confirming that talks to form a government had failed.
Matteo Salvini, head of a rightwing coalition which contains Berlusconi's Forza Italia, and Five Star Movement (M5S) chief Luigi Di Maio had been given until the end of the week to strike a deal.
The pair are vying to lead the country out of weeks of political deadlock that has emerged from the March general election.
The latest round of consultations centred on Di Maio's refusal to speak to Berlusconi, who the M5S sees as a symbol of political corruption.
And on Friday Berlusconi, whose Forza Italia party and allies won a 37-percent share of the vote, dismissed the MS5 as not a democratic party but a "danger to Italy".
"The Italians voted badly," he said.
The MS5 "is a movement that preaches social hatred, a movement of unemployed people, that wants the power to take (wealth) away from those who have it".
Instead, he said, the right-wing coalition should instead seek an alliance with smaller parties and the centre-left Democratic Party (PD).
The PD "from the point of view of responsibility and democracy are light years ahead of M5S," he said.
The M5S became Italy's largest single party with just under 33 percent of the vote and the right picked up 37 percent.
Di Maio, whose M5S became Italy's largest single party with just under 33 percent, had given Salvini until Friday to dump the Berlusconi.
Instead he wants to create a German-style "government contract" with coalition chief Salvini, head of the nationalist League party.
"The only forces capable of signing this contract and forming a government in these consultations are the M5S and the League," he added.
The rightwing coalition is made up of Berlusconi's Forza Italia and Salvini's far-right anti-migrant League party.
Di Maio's ultimatum was designed to put pressure on Salvini, who is eyeing elections on April 29 in the northeastern region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, where a League candidate backed by Forza Italia is favourite to win.
It also opened the door to potential future talks with centre-left Democratic Party (PD), who are not involved in this round of consultations after their coalition came third and subsequently refused to deal with either the right or M5S.