Rome — Prime Minister-designate Giovanni Spadolini, seeking to form a coalition government, held talks with buoyant Socialist Party leaders. The Socialists, Italy's third-largest party, scored big gains in local elections, and sources said they would push for strong representation in the cabinet. Socialist Secretary Bettino Craxi said after meeting Mr. Spadolini, a Republican, that progress toward forming a five-party centrist coalition was accelerating.
The local polls saw the Communists hold their big-city power bases with increased margins, but lose votes in Sicily and the south. The dominant Christian Democrats fared worst, dropping about four percentage points compared with the 1979 elections. The Socialists increased to an average 13.5 percent in the elections, over four points higher than in 1979 and a large increase by Italian political standards.