ROME The leader of Italy's center-left, Pier Luigi Bersani, pledged on Tuesday to try to form a government that would respond to the strong demand for change made clear by the inconclusive election and urged other parties to assume their responsibilities.
"We did not win, even though we came first," he told reporters in his first public comments since the election, which left his coalition with a majority in the lower house but unable to control the Senate.
He said the messy result had shown that austerity policies on their own were not the response to the crisis and added: "The bell is ringing for Europe as well".
He said his coalition would present a limited number of fundamental reforms to parliament in areas ranging from political institutions to the labor markets and European policy and would seek the backing of the other parties.
But he ruled out behind the scenes deals with either Silvio Berlusconi's center-right coalition or the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement of comic and blogger Beppe Grillo.
(Reporting by James Mackenzie and Catherine Hornby)