Italy's president has given the recently resigned premier, Giuseppe Conte, a fresh mandate to see if he can cobble together a new government backed by the populist 5-Star Movement and centre-left Democrats.

The two parties have banded together in an unlikely alliance to block hard-line League leader Matteo Salvini's power grab.

A spokesman for Italian president Sergio Mattarella said Thursday that Conte had accepted the conditional mandate.

Conte will now start talks with parties to try to form a government, and will report back progress to the president.

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The new alliance appears to forestall elections. But even if Conte cobbles together a government, political analysts warn it is unlikely to last.

-AP