Mercoledì, 26 Settembre 2018

Bersani says ready to meet Berlusconi


(By Denis Greenan).
Rome, April 2 - Centre-left leader Pier Luigi
Bersani said Tuesday he would meet centre-right leader Silvio
Berlusconi in an effort to solve Italy's post-election stalemate
as 10 'wise men' named by President Giorgio Napolitano got to
work on trying to narrow the policy differences between parties.
Bersani, the head of the biggest parliamentary coalition,
said he was prepared to meet Berlusconi, who leads the
second-biggest, in an "institutional" setting, while reiterating
he rejected the ex-premier's 'grand coalition' proposal.
The PD leader, who held week-long and eventually fruitless
government-formation talks last week, also said he was willing
to step aside if it made a new government more likely.
"If I am an obstacle, I will step aside, because Italy must
come first", Bersani told a news conference.
This was taken as voicing willingness to formally give up
the exploratory mandate Napolitano handed him on March 25, but
some observers also took it as a hint he might be willing to
make way for a new PD leader.
The PD is holding its annual congress in October where
Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi, beaten by Bersani in November
primaries, is expected by many to take over the reins of the
Polls say the younger, more media-savvy and more centrist
Renzi, who has been likened to Tony Blair, would attract more
voters than the more sober and tradition-bound Bersani.
Renzi might also be more prepared to work with Berlusconi,
some observers think.
In the meantime, however, Bersani's overture to the media
magnate and three-time premier received a swift rebuttal from
the secretary of Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party,
Angelino Alfano.
The PdL secretary said there was "little room" for dialogue
because of Bersani's refusal to team up with the PdL.
Alfano reiterated Berlusconi's claim that, after electing
parliamentary speakers from the centre left, the PD also aims to
get another "left-wing" president after former Communist
Napolitano steps down in mid-May.
Voting for a new president is set to start in less than two
weeks and no consensus candidate has emerged.
"If Bersani wants to occupy all the institutions, there is
no space for dialogue," Alfano said.
Napolitano named the 10 'wise men' - four for institutional
reform and six for growth, budget and tax policies - to tackle
the political deadlock that has gripped Italy since last month's
inconclusive general election.
He asked the experts to draft a programme of reforms for a
government that would be able to win cross-party backing, after
conceding on Saturday that the three groups were "frozen between
irreconcilable stances".
But the PD was cool about the initiative while the PdL
voiced open hostility, calling for a grand coalition or else a
new snap vote.
Meanwhile, Beppe Grillo, the leader of the 5-Star Movement
(M5S) that holds the balance of power in parliament after
capturing a huge protest vote last month, blasted the experts as
"unreal negotiators" and "nurses of democracy".
Constitutional Court President Valerio Onida, the leader of
the group that will tackle electoral and other reforms, shot
back that they should rather be called "baby-sitters" since the
parliament was "in its infancy".

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