"Salvini is the one who has the trump card and he has to decide when to play it," former prime minister Matteo Renzi, who now heads a small centrist party, said on Tuesday.

Italy’s parties resumed talks on Tuesday to try to find a mutually acceptable head of state and avoid the threat of political instability after a first round of voting among lawmakers ended in stalemate, Reuters reports from Rome.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi remains the most likely contender, but worries that his promotion to president might shatter his coalition government and trigger early national elections have complicated his prospects.

As a result, the race for the prestigious, seven-year role is wide open, with each political group cagily promoting candidates in behind-the-scenes negotiations.

Matteo Salvini, head of the rightist League, has carved out a position at the centre of the talks and has promised to present “several very high profile candidates, men and women,” to the other parties to try to overcome the deadlock.

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