Lunedì, 24 Settembre 2018
ROME

Gridlock rules as parliament opens

English
© ANSA

(By Christopher Livesay)

Rome, March 15 - The 17th legislature of the
Italian Republic opened Friday amid political deadlock as the
country's three biggest parties failed to agree on candidates
for Speakers or anything else.
Both the House and the Senate are called on to elect a
Speaker during their first session.
But votes in both cases were inconclusive as the
center-left Democratic Party (PD) led a drive to submit blank
ballots in the hope of buying more time for negotiations.
In the Senate, 246 senators out of 315 did not support
candidates, while 459 out of 630 in the House did the same,
forcing new rounds of voting that were also inconclusive later
in the day.
Pier Luigi Bersani, the head of the PD, said his party
would submit blank votes in order to have more time to reach
common ground with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S)
of comedian Beppe Grillo, whose stunning performance in February
elections wrested enough support from the center left in the
Senate to create gridlock in the first session of parliament
Friday.
The center-right People of Freedom (PdL) party of
ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi also performed surprisingly well in
elections, and has said it too would submit blank ballots for
speakers.
Grillo, whose euro-skeptic, anti-tax and largely populist
platform has vaulted his party to the top of current opinion
polls, has said he wants to "open the parliament like a can of
tuna".
His supporters in the Senate Friday placed a can-opener on
the dais.
Since elections, PD representatives have been trying to
forge an agreement with the M5S, which took a total of 162 seats
in parliament, but so far talks have have yielded little.
On Friday Grillo accused Italy's political parties of
wrecking the country in an interview with German TV.
"Economically and morally Italy is a pile of rubble," the
gadfly comedian told Germany's principal state channel ARD.
"Italians turned their backs on political parties because
they have destroyed and drained our country".
"The European dream will dissolve because the economy is
not moving any more".
So far M5S has ruled out any form of alliance with the
centre-left coalition led by Bersani, which polled most votes in
the February elections but failed to win a working majority in
both houses of parliament, leading to the current political
logjam.
Many have cited austerity constraints imposed on Italians
as a prime reason behind Grillo's success at the polls.
French President Francois Hollande said at the European
Union summit on Friday that the bloc had to learn the lesson
from Italy's post-election impasse and be more flexible with its
demands for fiscal consolidation.
His remarks were echoed by the ex-Eurogroup head
Jean-Claude Juncker who said that results from the Italian
elections demonstrate a "clear rejection of EU policy" and "a
massive rejection of the political class in Italy by Italians
who believe in people who pretend to love them but instead are
simply cunning".

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