Lunedì, 24 Settembre 2018
ROME

Bersani denies PD rift, presidential ambitions

English
© ANSA

By Denis Greenan.
(updates previous).
Rome, April 11 - Besieged Democratic Party (PD)
leader Pier Luigi Bersani on Thursday denied a reported rift
between his supporters and backers of former primary rival
Matteo Renzi, the mayor of Florence who has campaigned to
"scrap" the old guard and rapped Bersani for failing to strike a
post-election deal with ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi.
The PD leader, who is still touted as a possible premier
despite the centre left just failing to win the general election
40 days ago, also laughed off media reports that he was in the
running to become the next Italian president.
Bersani said there was "no danger" of the PD splitting
because of internal divisions over his handling of the deadlock.
Rising star Renzi has publicly criticised Bersani's
approach after the centre left came first in February's
inconclusive general election but did not win a working majority
in the Senate, leading to a hung parliament.
Italy still has no government after Bersani failed to win
support for a post-election pact with the increasingly popular
anti-establishment 5-Star Movement of comedian Beppe Grillo and
ruled out forming a grand coalition with Berlusconi's
centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party.
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has asked a group of
10 'wise men' to try to break the deadlock by preparing a
government programme capable of winning cross-party support.
Renzi has said this means Italy is "wasting time" that
should be used to combat the country's economic ailments and
argued the PD should either open talks with Berlusconi or ask to
return to the polls.
The Florence mayor, who has been compared to a young Tony
Blair, also crossed swords with Bersani after not being chosen
among the representatives of Italy's regions set to join
lawmakers in voting for the next head of state.
Although tension is high, Bersani says his party will not
break up.
"We don't have problems of this type," Bersani told
reporters on Thursday when asked about a possible split.
Later, Bersani scoffed at talk he was among the touted
candidates to replace Napolitano, whose seven-year mandate
expires on May 15.
"The only hills I have in mind are those in the province of
Piacenza," said Bersani in reference to his native Emilia
Romagna.
The seat of the president of the republic on the Quirinale
hill in Rome is commonly referred to simply as 'Il Colle',
meaning 'The Hill'.
A joint parliamentary session to elect a successor will
start on April 18, also including three representatives form
each of Italy's 20 regions.
Another bone of contention between Bersani and Renzi was
the latter's exclusion from the two delegates named by the PD in
Tuscany to become so-called 'grand electors', with the mayor
accusing central office of meddling and Bersani flatly denying
the claim.
Renzi met ex-premier Massimo D'Alema in Florence Thursday
in an open attempt to allay party infighting.
D'Alema, one of the most criticised members of the PD's old
guard, emerged to tell reporters he had "never attacked Renzi,
who is an important personality", adding there was "no risk" of
a party split.
The veteran former leader admitted it had been "a mistake"
not to name Renzi as a grand elector.
He said he himself had never aimed for the presidency
either.
Names for a future president being touted on left and right
include former centre-left premier Romani Prodi, Berlusconi aide
Gianni Letta and Radical Party heavyweight Emma Bonino, but no
consensus candidates have yet to emerge.
Italian media say two figures on the centre left,
ex-premier Giuliano Amato and ex-Senate Speaker Franco Marini,
are more palatable for the centre right.
This because Amato was a long-time economic advisor and
highly regarded aide to late Socialist premier Bettino Craxi, a
close friend of Berlusconi's who protected his media empire and
bestrode the Italian political landscape despite the dominance
of the Christian Democrats before becoming the chief culprit in
the Bribesville scandals that brought the establishment parties
crashing down in the early 1990s.
Craxi eventually fled from an arrest warrant to his
Tunisian villa and died there in self-imposed exile, despite
calls for a pardon, in 2000.
Marini is seen as being more acceptable to the centre right
because he comes from the Catholic or Christian-Socialist wing
of the PD, and is a former Christian Democrat.
Some would like to see Napolitano serve a second term in
office but the incumbent president has repeatedly ruled out this
possibility.
Many observers expected the next president to call fresh
elections unless the PD and PdL can come to an accommodation
over both the president and a government capable of lasting long
enough to hopefully enable Grillo's star to wane.

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