Martedì, 23 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Berlusconi party split over ex-premier's return

English
© ANSA

(see related stories)
Rome, December 6 - Silvio Berlusconi's People of
Freedom (PdL) party was split on Thursday after the ex-premier
suggested he would drop plans to retire from the political front
line and run at the upcoming national elections.
Many centre-right MPs gave warm approval, saying the
76-year-old's return would end the vacuum of leadership the PdL
has suffered since Berlusconi quit as premier last year and help
take it up from third place in the opinion poles.
"Silvio Berlusconi led the centre-right government until a
year ago, guaranteeing social peace and producing results that
are incomparable with those of the current technocrat
government," said PdL MP Mara Carfagna, the equal opportunities
minister in Berlusconi's 2008-2011 government.
"We can proudly lay claim to these results in the election
campaign. That's why if Silvio Berlusconi decided to represent
the centre right and stand for premier again, our work would be
much easier".
A group of 13 PdL Senators issued a joint statement calling
on Berlusconi to drop any lingering doubts he might have about
returning to the political fold.
"Finally the moment that many inside and outside the PdL
had hoped for has come," said PdL MP Alessandra Mussolini, the
granddaughter of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
"With Berlusconi back in the field, the election contest
opens up again and the centre right is revived".
But there were also voices of dissent, many coming from
former members of the right-wing National Alliance (AN) party,
which merged with Berlusconi's Forza Italia party in 2009.
"I consider Berlusconi standing again to be a mistake,"
said Giorgia Meloni, who was youth minister in Berlusconi's last
government.
"Anyway, these decisions should be discussed and taken by
the competent party bodies," added the 35-year-old, who was due
to stand in primaries to select the PdL's premier candidate that
now look set to be scrapped.
Maurizio Gasparri, the PdL's House whip, said Berlusconi
should return to the political fray, but in a support role to
party Secretary Angelino Alfano and not as premier candidate.
"We've asked Berlusconi to take a step forward, but
together," Gasparri, who is usually a staunch Berlusconi
loyalist, told Corriere della Sera.
"He has to be part of the rejuvenation of the party that he
started when he selected a 41-year-old (Alfano) as party
secretary and he appointed lots of young ministers.
"It's not a step back because Alfano will need Berlusconi's
incisive, active support even if he is the premier candidate".
If Berlusconi confirms he will run in the elections and
scraps the party primaries many experts say his party is likely
to split.
Polls suggest he is unlikely to win the elections, as the
centre-right Democratic Party is seen as having the support of
over 30% of voters, compared to less than 20% for the PdL, which
has been overtaken by comedian Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment
Five Star Movement.

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