Giovedì, 18 Ottobre 2018

Napolitano makes time to mull political impasse


Rome, March 5 - Italian President Giorgio
Napolitano on Tuesday said he was giving himself as much time as
possible to mull over the political impasse left by Italy's
inconclusive elections.
In a statement, Napolitano said it was "impossible" to bring
forward the first joint session of the two houses of parliament,
expected to come on March 15.
This time, he said, would leave "ample space for a
profitable preparatory phase ahead of the consultations of the
head of state aimed at forming a new government".
Napolitano is faced with a quandary because, although a
coalition led by the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) achieved
a majority in the House after narrowly beating a centre-right
alliance led by ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom
(PdL) party, no party or coalition got a majority in the Senate,
producing a hung parliament.
The spectacular rise of the anti-establishment, anti-euro
and anti-austerity 5-Star Movement (M5S), which became the
single most-voted party in the House and holds the balance of
power in the Senate, has left the president with few options
because M5S leader and former comedian Beppe Grillo has refused
to back PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani, whom he calls "a dead man
talking" or three-time Berlusconi, whom he calls "the
Napolitano was expected to hand a government-formation
mandate to Bersani after formal consultations with parties on
March 21-22, since the PD's coalition has a House majority and
is also, by just six seats, ahead of the PdL in the Senate.
The PD leader has been making overtures to Grillo to agree a
limited platform of measures, reflecting the core of the M5S
manifesto, to cut political costs, reform Italy's
much-criticised 'pigsty' electoral law, boost growth and help
the neediest, and pass a conflict-of-interest law that would
finally resolve an issue that has weighed heavily on Italian
politics since media magnate Berlusconi first swept to power in
But Grillo flatly rejected Bersani's appeal and heaped more
insults on the PD leader.
On Monday the foul-mouthed rabble-rouser predicted the next
government would be a PD-PdL grand coalition led by ex-banker
Corrado Passera, the powerful industry minister in Mario Monti's
outgoing technocratic government who might find favour with
financial markets and the European Union, which is watching with
bated breath for any sign Italy could re-ignite the eurozone
debt crisis.
Pundits said any such coalition would be doomed to a short
life and Grillo's was hopeful of this outcome.
A Passera-led government, according to this hypothesis,
would make traditional politicians even less popular with voters
so the M5S could garner even more support in another general
election later this year.
It would also revive criticism by Grillo of the alleged
banking lobby and EU watchdogs which some have associates with
former EU commissioner Monti.
Then, on Monday night, the M5S changed tack again and
suggested they would lend support to another necessarily
short-lived technocratic government along the lines of the
Monti-led one that pulled Italy away from a Greek-style meltdown
in November 2011 only to impose crushing austerity that
alienated voters.
But then on Tuesday morning the M5S Senate caucus leader
Vito Crimi roundly denied having opened up to the prospect of
supporting a government of unelected technocrats to help the
country emerge from its political deadlock.
Crimi, who had seemed on Monday to suggest a technocrat
government could be a solution when he responded "we'll see,
first they have to form it," on Tuesday seemed to close the door
on this option.
"I point out that I never spoke about supporting a
technocrat government," Crimi said on his Facebook page.
"The only solution that we propose is a 5-Star Movement
government that immediately implements without hesitation the
first 20 points on our programme and then all the rest," he
said, adding that he would not speak to the media on Tuesday or
Crimi's statement was followed hours later by a blog post
from Grillo himself, firmly ruling the prospect of the M5S
supporting a technocrat government.
"The M5S will not vote confidence in a technocrat
government, I never said it would," the former comedian wrote on
his blog.
Grillo also criticised the record of Monti's government
which, among other things, changed Italy's labour laws to make
it easier for firms to fire workers - although the reform was
watered down because of PD opposition.
"The Monti government has been the most political of the
post-war period," he said. "Before no one had ever questioned
Article 18 (of the 1970 worker statute) that defends workers",
Grillo posted.
With Grillo exerting all the gadfly energies his kingmaker
role gives him, pundits say Napolitano will be hard put to come
up with a solution to the stalemate and Italy might be headed
for another election sooner rather than later - despite the head
of State having ruled this out.
Monti, meanwhile, is using what remains of his political
clout after a dire election result to call Bersani, Berlusconi
and Grillo to "consultations" ahead of an upcoming EU summit.
On Tuesday, in another apparent bid to bolster Napolitano's
efforts, the outgoing premier met with Matteo Renzi, the Tony
Blair-style youthful mayor of Florence who many see as a
replacement for Bersani as PD leader in the next election.
Renzi, defeated by Bersani in PD primaries in November,
appeals to a much wider electorate, according to opinion polls.

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