Domenica, 23 Settembre 2018

Bersani, Berlusconi, Monti make final vote pitches


Rome, February 22 - Italy's political leaders made
their final pitches on Friday ahead of Sunday and Monday's
general election, the outcome of which is highly uncertain.
Pier Luigi Bersani's centre-left coalition is favourite to
win, as it was some five points ahead before a pre-election poll
blackout kicked in earlier this month.
But many experts say there is a risk that Bersani's margin
of victory will not give him a working majority in parliament.
Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right alliance was second after
a media blitz by the ex-premier enabled it to narrow a gap that
was in double figures at the start of the campaign.
One of the reasons for the uncertainty is that comedian
Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment Five Star Movement is expected
to win lots of seats in parliament.
It was third in the polls before the blackout started, with
around 15% of people intending to vote for it after the
foul-mouthed Grillo took advantage of a wave a public
disaffection following several corruption scandals that have hit
parties on various parts of the political spectrum.
Outgoing Premier Mario Monti, who took the helm of an
emergency government of unelected technocrats in November 2011
when Berlusconi resigned as premier with Italy's debt crisis
threatening to spiral out of control, was fourth with around 13%
inclined to opt for his reform platform backed by centrist
Bersani said his record as industry minister in Romano
Prodi's centre-left government between 2006 and 2008, when he
was the architect of a series of reforms to liberalise various
sectors of the economy, showed he has the mettle to make the
tough decisions Italy needs.
"I think I'm a reformist who is tempered in style, but
quite radical in my choices," Bersani told ANSA on Friday.
"The only liberal things done in this country were done by
me," he added on state broadcaster Rai.
Bersani, who is also the chief of the main centre-left
Democratic Party (PD), also expressed confidence that he would
win outright without needing to form a post-election pact with
Monti to have a majority in parliament.
Monti has said he could not work with the PD's coalition
partner, the left-wing SEL.
Puglia governor Nichi Vendola, SEL's leader, had said the
feeling is mutual.
Berlusconi continued with his aggressive style, although he
was unable to attend his People of Freedom (PdL) party's final
election rally in Naples due to a bout of conjunctivitis.
The three-time Italian premier described the PD as "cruel
and inhuman" and said party members envied "those who make
sacrifices and take risks in business to make themselves
He also reiterated his claim that voting for Monti or
Bersani was the same thing as they would end up allied in
parliament - even though this has been denied. Berlusconi said
Monti and Bersani were bound by their "love of power and
hostility for the public".
Berlusconi has said he will be economy minister if the
centre right wins and the government will be led by the
secretary of his People of Freedom (PdL) party, Angelino Alfano.
Monti said that if he was elected he would continue with
the reforms of the economy and labour market passed by his
government in order to combat chronic youth unemployment and
help women find work.
The former European commissioner said Friday that he had
prepared a "shock therapy package" that featured tax cuts for
companies that hire people on permanent full-time contracts,
payroll-tax exemption for apprenticeships and more day-care
centres for working parents.
Grillo, who wants Italy to hold a referendum over whether
it should keep having the euro as its currency, wound up his
'Tsunami' campaign tour with a huge rally at Rome's San Giovanni
Square, traditionally a bastion of left-wing protests.
The comedian, who snubs TV appearances and uses the
Internet and rallies to spread his message, denied Italian
journalists back-stage access to the event, although he did give
accreditation to foreign media and Sky Italia.
"The future Italy will be founded on culture, research and
COMMON SENSE! Today is the day in which we will change this
country!," Grillo said via Twitter.

photo: centre left leader Pier Luigi Bersani.

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