Domenica, 21 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Bersani says wary about Berlusconi's 'guises'

English
© ANSA

(By Denis Greenan).
Rome, April 9 - Centre-left leader Pier Luigi
Bersani geared for his post-election meeting with centre-right
leader Silvio Berlusconi saying he was all too aware of the
various "guises" the three-time premier has adopted over the
years.
Bersani, head of the Democratic Party (PD) which topped the
February 24-25 polls a shade ahead of Berlusconi's People of
Freedom (PdL)-led alliance, told reporters he would take the
media-magnate-turned-politician's allegedly chameleon-like
nature into account when they discussed issues including Italy's
next president.
The meeting is also supposed to address Berlusconi's
long-standing call for a left-right coalition to overcome the
stalemate caused by comedian Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment
5-Star Movement (M5S) holding the balance of power in a hung
parliament.
But Bersani has consistently resisted such overtures before
and is expected to instead push for a minority 'targeted
government' to try to inject some life into a flatlining economy
and pass key reforms such as changing Italy's much-criticised
electoral law so it produces a clear winner next time round.
Bersani has hinted in the past that agreement might be
achieved on two levels - one for the so-called 'government of
change' whose reform agenda might also appeal to the icily
standoffish M5S, and the other for a 'convention' on
institutional reform.
President Giorgio Napolitano, whose terms ends May 15, has
appointed 10 'wise men' to frame possible consensus policy
proposals but even they have been quoted as being pessimistic
about galvanising the parties into accord.
A few hours ahead of his meeting with Berlusconi, at which
sources said there might be some "convergence" around the name
of a new president, Bersani again ruled out forming a grand
coalition with the PdL.
Bersani's refusal to respond to Berlusconi's calls for him
to consider a pact with the PdL to end the political deadlock
has been criticised by many within his own party, including
rising star Matteo Renzi, the mayor of Florence, who said
parties were "wasting time" while Italy sank ever deeper into
the economic and social mire.
And on Monday Napolitano, suggested the parties should have
the "courage" to reach an agreement for the good of a country
that faces huge economic challenges and is in the middle of its
biggest recession for 20 years.
The outgoing head of state recalled the spirit of national
unity between old foes Christian Democrats and Communists which
led to the famous "historic compromise" of 1976.
But Bersani defended his position, saying the experience of
outgoing Premier Mario Monti's emergency technocrat
administration, which both the PD and the PdL supported in
parliament, showed a grand coalition would not work.
"I experienced a broad coalition in the final stages of the
Monti government," Bersani, who failed in his bid to win support
from M5S and had to hand the ball back to Napolitano, told state
broadcaster Rai.
"We hung in there and Berlusconi took off (and withdrew his
support) three months before (the end of its term in December).
When I meet him, I'll say: I know you, you're in another of your
guises. We've already been there".
Bersani added that the talks with Berlusconi will regard
"the method to elect the president" when a joint session of
parliament plus regional representatives, - 1007 'grand
electors' in all - start voting on April 18.
A two-thirds majority is required for the first three votes
but thenceforth a simple majority will suffice.
But presidents, being incarnations of national unity, are
usually expected to garner broad cross-party support.
Bersani later hinted he was open to the possibility of a
woman being elected to succeed Napolitano.
In comments made to the PD caucus in the House, Bersani
said that in choosing a new president for the country, it was
important to "keep gender equality in mind".
In Italy, the president - a mostly ceremonial position, but
which has key constitutional powers, including appointing
governments and calling elections - is elected by parliament.
Among the names making the rounds as potential replacements
for Napolitano are those of former centre-left leader and
ex-premier Romano Prodi, as well as former European commissioner
Emma Bonino.
A leading member of the small Radical party that promotes
economic and social liberalism and champions human-rights
issues, Bonino has won support from figures on both the
left and right of Italy's political spectrum.
She gained a good international reputation for her human
rights work while she was European commissioner for health and
consumer protection from 1995 to 1999, a role that also included
overseeing the EC's department for overseas aid and civil
protection.
Bonino has so far been low down in the bookies' reckonings
for the post, but on Tuesday she had risen a bit.
Prodi was still the top tip, despite declared opposition
from the PdL, quoted at 1.65 to 1 by Bet2875.
Berlusconi's long-time right-hand man Gianni Letta was
second at 1.85 despite strong PD opposition and former PD leader
and ex-premier Massimo D'Alema was a 2-to-1 tip, Agipronews
reported.
D'Alema has been cited as acceptable by Berlusconi but he
does not enjoy wide popularity among centre-left rank and file.
Bonino receovered a couple of percentage points to 2.1,
followed closely by another former centre-left premier
Berlusconi has said he might accept, Giuliano Amato, at 2.2.
Ex-Senate Speaker Franco Marino, a centre-lefter with
broader appeal, was on 2.45 to 1.

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