Italy's Silvio Berlusconi on Saturday called for either a strong new government or a fresh round of votes, while centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani rapped his political rivals for grandstanding during a deadlock that followed inconclusive elections.

Bersani's coalition got the most votes in the February 24-25 ballot but failed to get enough for an overall majority in parliament, with Berlusconi's grouping coming in a very close second.

Since then, Italy has descended into a deep political crisis since Bersani has so far failed to form a new government -- refusing to join a grand coalition with Berlusconi and unable to woo lawmakers from the Beppe Grillo-led Five Star Movement which came third.

"Either there's a strong and stable government right away or it will be preferable to let the Italians have their say by voting in June," Berlusconi said at a political gathering in Bari in southern Italy, underscoring he would be more than ready to run again.

"We're already ready to vote and I will be the candidate," the scandal-tainted former prime minister said.

He also urged Bersani to stop "chasing" Grillo.

Bersani, on his end, on Saturday lashed out at both Berlusconi and Grillo, saying "that's enough demagoguery", warning that unless they come to agreement soon, the crisis could worsen.

"When the house is burning, anything can happen and it's necessary to confront the crisis in a rational manner," he said at a Rome meeting.

The ex-Communist blamed the current deadlock mainly on Grillo, saying his refusal to cooperate will lead to Italy's "destruction".

Italy is currently stuck in its longest recession since the Second World War and the government, still run by outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti, has said the economy will shrink by at least 1.3 percent this year.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]