Lunedì, 24 Settembre 2018
ROME

Hopes for centre-left govt dwindle, M5S not budging

English
© ANSA

(By Paul Virgo)
Rome, March 11 - Centre-left leader Pier Luigi
Bersani's hopes of breaking Italy's political deadlock to form a
government appear to be dwindling, with attempts to reach out to
the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) not bearing fruit.
Bersani's coalition came first in last month's election but
failed to win a working majority in the Senate after ex-premier
Silvio Berlusconi's centre right arrived a close second and
comedian Beppe Grillo's Internet-based M5S captured a huge
protest vote.
Bersani has ruled out forming a grand coalition with
Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party, concentrating his
post-election strategy to making overtures to the M5S, even
though it is hostile to established groups like his centre-left
Democratic Party (PD).
Last week he presented an eight-point platform for a
"government of change" that features some of the points of the
M5S's manifesto, including cuts to the number of lawmakers and
the introduction of a universal system of unemployment benefits.
The hope was that this would convince the M5S, which holds
the balance of power in parliament after 163 of its political
novices were elected, to vote confidence in a Bersani executive.
At the weekend there was speculation that the new M5S MPs,
who started the procedures to register as parliamentarians along
with the members of other parties on Monday, might hold a vote
on whether to back a centre-left government.
This was swiftly squashed by Grillo, who has not personally
been elected and said via his Twitter account on Sunday that he
would quit politics if the M5S votes confidence in Bersani.
The position was reiterated on Monday by the M5S's future
House whip Roberta Lombardi, who said any of the movement's
lawmakers who vote confidence in a government led by Bersani
will be expelled.
"There won't be a deal (for a confidence vote)," said
Lombardi.
"If anyone decides to do it, they'll be out of the
movement".
Grillo and his supporters blame Italy's problems on the
whole political class, which has been tarnished by a series of
corruption scandals.
They say they won't cut any deals with the established
parties, although they would be willing to cooperate on specific
reforms.
If the deadlock is not broken, Italy may well have to
return to the polls later this year.
Bersani admitted Monday that the odds were against him.
"Our effort is to get through a narrow door, that's very
true," he said of a meeting of the PD's new MPs.
"But I'd like to know which one is wider. We don't have any
motorways to go down".
On Monday Grillo challenged Bersani to go further than he
has in his eight-point programme and commit the PD to renouncing
public funding, as the M5S does.
This issue has already created tension within the PD.
At the weekend Matteo Renzi, the Tony Blair-style 38-year
old mayor of Florence who lost to Bersani in the centre-left's
primaries, has said the PD should come out in favour of
abolishing State financing of parties.
This prompted the PD to issue a terse statement saying that
the party's policy on how to cut the costs of the political
system were included in the eight-point programme.
Many see the telegenic Renzi as a replacement for Bersani
as PD leader in the next election.
Renzi appeals to a much wider electorate, according to
opinion polls, although he is regarded with suspicion by some
within the party who think his campaign to rejuvenate the
political system and send older politicians to the "scrapheap"
is born of ambition rather than principle.
Grillo's solution to the political gridlock would be for
the other parties to back a M5S government.
The movement's manifesto, which has been criticised for
being too vague, features pledges to promote free broadband
access, the abolition of stock options, a cap on the salaries of
senior executives, a ban on the privatisation of local water
companies, more energy saving and renewables, a basic income
guarantee and a conflict-of-interests law.
Grillo, who has been blasted as a populist rabble-rouser
advocating policies that would take Italy towards a Greek-style
economic meltdown, has also said Italy should have a referendum
on whether the euro should continue to be its currency and has
proposed that all trade unions be abolished.
Not all of the new M5S MPs gave their bank details when
they started their parliamentary registration procedures on
Monday.
This may be linked to the movement's pledge that its
lawmakers will only take the part of their parliamentary salary
that is in line with the wage of an average Italian.

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