Italy's anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and its far-right partner, the League, appeared to be on the verge of signing a government deal on Thursday after overcoming outstanding divisive issues.
When 5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio emerged from a four-hour meeting with League chief Matteo Salvini, he said the two parties had to hammer out a few "minor details" and that the programme should be finalised later in the day.
5-Star's parliamentary party leader Danilo Toninelli told state television Rai: "The only way to get a serious government is to return to the polls".
5-Star won 32.6 percent of the vote in the March 4 election, while the League, which is part of a centre-right alliance, took 17.3 percent.
On Tuesday both men stressed that they had only been negotiating for six days, compared with the six months of torturous post-election bartering before a government could be formed in Germany.
A draft of their proposed German-style coalition contract - dated Monday morning - featured a proposal for "specific technical procedures" that would allow countries to leave the single currency and recover "monetary sovereignty".
It was not clear when these and other measures would be adopted, and there was still no word on the thorny issue of who would be prime minister.
On Thursday, the EU's statistics office said it can not exclude Italian bonds held by the European Central Bank from its debt calculations.
In bond markets, the US 10-year Treasury yield set a fresh seven-year high of 3.108 percent in Asian trade on Thursday.
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Even so, it is still unclear how all this will square with Italy's commitments to reduce its budget deficit and its public debt, which at more than 130 percent of gross domestic product, is the highest in the euro zone after Greece.
The opposition Democrats, who controlled the outgoing government, warn that the League's vow to drastically lower taxes to a flat 15-percent rate, and the 5-Star's promise to give government subsidies to low-income Italians will spook financial markets and drastically drive up government borrowing costs.
Despite doubts over their unlikely union, Di Maio and Salvini became more emboldened to strike a deal after warnings from the European commission against the formation of a government that would disregard the bloc's stability and growth pact or jeopardise Italy's migrant policy.
European Union leaders meeting in Sofia on Wednesday are likely to be concerned by the rhetoric of the parties which could form a new Italian government as early as next week.
"Don't forget that Italy does have a very high debt stock so every basis point matters".
Five Star became Italy's largest party after gaining almost 33 percent of the vote, while the League - shorn of the rest of the rightwing coalition that won 37 percent - will be the junior partner with 17 percent.
While in Rome the leaders of the Five-Star Movement (M5S) and the League are taking more time to form a government, the European Union is in a state of uncertainty - waiting for the impact of a eurosceptic leadership in its fourth-largest member.
Both parties plan to consult supporters over the weekend to see if they back the government pact.
Di Maio said earlier Thursday that the final version of the contract would be put to his party's members for approval "probably tomorrow".