The former head of the Italian government Matteo Renzi and strongman of the Democratic Party (PD) on Sunday attacked the leader of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) as the two parties try to reach an agreement to form a new government.
The Democratic Party on Thursday delayed a decision on forming a government with M5S, prolonging political uncertainty almost two months after inconclusive elections
Asked about the Five Star Movement's leader Luigi Di Maio being prime minister on a programme broadcast on the RAI public television channel, Renzi responded with sarcasm: "Di Maio is the only one to think so.
"Maybe someone will give him 19 percent but asking for votes from those you accused of all the ills of Italy is absurd," he said referring to the percentage of extra votes the party -- which polled 33 percent of votes in the March 4 legislative elections -- would need.
Italy has been gripped by a political stalemate since the election failed to produce a clear winner.
A first round of consultations between M5S's Di Maio and the far-right League's Matteo Salvini collapsed earlier this month after both refused to budge over Salvini's coalition partner, former premier Silvio Berlusconi.
Di Maio had demanded that Salvini dump the 81-year-old media magnate, who the M5S regards as the symbol of political corruption, but Salvini insisted he would not break up a coalition that came first in the elections with a combined 37 percent.
Its 33 percent of votes makes the M5S Italy's largest single party.
The political impasse led Di Maio to slam the door on any future accord with the League and turn towards the PD in a fresh round of negotiations.
The PD, in power since 2013, only got 23 percent of the vote as part of a left-wing coalition. Renzi resigned as PD head after the devastating result at the polls.
The PD had until now, insisted it would remain in opposition, refusing to be a "crutch" for a M5S administration.
Renzi had become the country's youngest prime minister in 2014 at the age of 39.
He managed to deliver his flagship labour market reforms and modest growth, while overseeing the granting of legal recognition to gay relationships for the first time.
But the recovery was not strong enough to generate any real political dividends, and Renzi's domestic fall from grace came in December 2016, when Italians rejected his proposal for constitutional reform in a referendum.
Italy's former prime minister and Democratic Party (PD) chief Matteo Renzi (R) blasts the chances of the Five Star Movement's leader Luigi Di Maio becoming the country's new premier