Mercoledì, 26 Settembre 2018
ROME

Centre-left primary debate hailed as ground-breaker

English
© ANSA

Rome, November 13 - Monday's debate between the
five candidates bidding to lead the centre left at next spring's
general elections was hailed as a ground-breaking moment for
Italian politics on Tuesday.
The debate was hosted by satellite broadcaster Sky, which
also screened it on a free-to-air digital channel, with an
American-style quiz show format in which the candidates were
given a minute or a minute and a half to answer questions
pitched to them all.
Political pundits largely agreed that frontrunner Pier
Luigi Bersani, the secretary of the main centre-left Democratic
Party (PD), and second-favourite Matteo Renzi, the 37-year-old
mayor of Florence who is also in the PD, both gave capable
displays.
Renzi, who presents himself as a modernizer and is
campaigning for Italy's political class to be rejuvenated,
looked the most comfortable of the five with the format.
Nichi Vendola, the openly gay governor of Puglia and the
head of the Left, Ecology and Freedom party, was seen as scoring
well too.
Bruno Tabacci, a member of the Catholic centrist wing of
the PD, and Laura Puppato, a businesswoman and PD councillor in
the Veneto regional assembly, were viewed to have given less
accomplished performances.
The discussion failed to produce any truly fiery exchanges,
in contrast with the often angry scenes frequently seen on
Italian political talk shows.
But it was entertaining nevertheless and produced record
viewing figures for Sky, with an average of 1,885,816 people
tuned in during the prime-time broadcast, 6.22% of the viewing
audience.
The debate also generated around 100,000 unique tweets, 20
a second during the hottest moments of the debate, and two
hashtags related to it, #csxfactor and #ilconfrontoskytg24, were
the top trending issues on Twitter worldwide late on Monday.
It was seen as a step forward for a political class that
has been hit by corruption scandals and is widely perceived as
being detached from the needs of voters.
"Yesterday's debate will probably not determine the winner
of the primary for the centre-left candidate," read an editorial
in Tuesday's edition of Turin-based daily La Stampa.
"But it will be difficult to go back from the way of
conducting politics, or political propaganda, that was baptised
in our country yesterday evening.
"How old those debates between (former premiers Romano)
Prodi and (Silvio) Berlusconi, looked compared to yesterday's OK
Corral".
Prodi and Berlusconi faced off three times in TV debates
before elections in 2006 and 1996, both of which Prodi won.
The only issue that caused sparks of tension on Monday was
that of electoral coalitions, with Bersani saying he was open to
forming an alliance with the centrist Catholic UDC.
Vendola said he could not envisage his party and the UDC
being in the same alliance and Renzi also dismissed the notion.
The five all said that they were unhappy with controversial
labour reforms introduced by Premier Mario Monti's emergency
technocrat government that make it easier for firms to fire
workers.
The candidates also agreed that gay people should have the
right to wed in civil unions, although, unlike Vendola, Bersani
and Renzi did not give backing to allowing gay couples to adopt
children. They did not rule this out either.
The centre-left primary will take place on November 25,
with a run-off between the top two candidates a week later if no
one claims more than 50% in the first round.
The PD is ahead in the polls, with close to 30% of Italians
saying they intend to vote for the party at next year's
elections.
The second biggest group is comedian Beppe Grillo's
anti-establishment Five Star movement, which is making big gains
with the help of widespread skepticism about the party system.
Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party is third.
The centre-right party has been hit by big corruption
scandals in Lazio and Lombardy recently and by the media
magnate's fall after he resigned from the helm of government a
year ago with the financial crisis threatening to spiral out of
control.
The PdL is set to hold primaries to choose its premier
candidate next month.

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