Italy's anti-establishment Five Star Movement, turned kingmaker in February's inconclusive elections, on Friday gathered for a secret meeting amid rising tensions after some members opened up for an alliance to break the political deadlock.
Leader Beppe Grillo, an ex-comedian, has repeatedly said his party will not ally with anyone, but instead wants to approve reforms on a case-by-case basis.
Last week, however, Vito Crimi, head of the Five Star movement (M5S) in the upper house, said it would be better to have centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani at the helm of the government than limping on with outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti, whose cabinet will stay on with interim powers until a new government is formed.
A total 163 lawmakers of Grillo's M5S boarded buses to the secret meeting being held at a countryside retreat just north of Rome. Although they would not comment on the content of the meeting, they said it had been scheduled for a long time.
The eurozone's third-largest economy descended into a political crisis after the elections resulted in a three-way split between Bersani's centre-left -- who secured the most votes but failed to win a majority -- Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right which came a close second, and Grillo's M5S as third.
The M5S unexpectedly captured over a quarter of the vote for the lower house, becoming the biggest individual party in parliament.
Bersani has ruled out an alliance with Berlusconi, but has so far failed to woo Grillo's movement to support his cabinet.