Venerdì, 19 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Berlusconi says next president could be centre-left

English
© ANSA

(By Denis Greenan).
Rome, April 12 - Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi has
said he might be willing to consider backing a candidate from
the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) for president if it drops
its refusal to form a broad government coalition with his People
of Freedom (PdL) party.
Italy has been in a state of political deadlock since
February's inconclusive general election because centre-left
leader Pier Luigi Bersani has rejected the PdL's calls for it to
form a grand coalition.
Bersani, whose alliance finished ahead of Berlusconi's
coalition in the vote but did not win a working majority in the
Senate, failed in a bid to win support from the
anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) that holds the balance
of power in parliament.
As well as working out a way to break the impasse, the
parties must also choose a successor to President Giorgio
Napolitano, whose seven-year term ends next month.
"We are certainly ready to discuss it," Berlusconi said in
an interview published in Friday's edition of Rome-based daily
La Repubblica when asked about the possibility of a PD member
being the next president.
"When we spoke to the (PD) secretary (Bersani this week),
we did not name any names.
"But if we agree on a road for the Quirinale (presidential
palace), on the other hand we also have to find a agreement for
a broad coalition executive with ministers chosen together.
Otherwise nothing".
Bersani has repeatedly said he is willing to talk to the
PdL and the other parties to try to reach a consensus candidate
to be Napolitano's successor, while stressing the negotiations
should remain separate from the issue of forming a new
executive.
On Thursday Bersani scoffed at talk he was among the
possible candidates to replace Napolitano.
"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'.
Names for a future president touted on left and right
include former centre-left premier Romani Prodi, Berlusconi aide
Gianni Letta and Radical Party heavyweight Emma Bonino - who
topped a poll Friday - but no consensus candidates have yet to
emerge.
Italian media have said two figures on the centre left,
ex-premier Giuliano Amato and ex-Senate Speaker Franco Marini,
are more palatable for the centre right.
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.
The controversial Craxi bestrode the Italian political
landscape in the 1980s 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, amid
belated 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 expect the next president to call fresh
elections unless the PD and PdL can come to an accommodation
over the government.
Media pundits say the two parties want a government capable
of lasting long enough to let M5S leader Beppe Grillo's star
wane.
Grillo, on the other hand, who has refused to do deals with
the PD or PdL, is banking on public perceptions of their alleged
"backroom deal" boosting the M5S past the established parties.
A joint parliamentary session to elect the president will
start on April 18, also including three representatives from
most of Italy's 20 regions, making a total of 58.
With 945 parliamentarians and four Life Senators, the total
of grand electors is 1007. A two-thirds majority is needed in
the first three ballots, and then a simple majority is enough.
Tensions within the PD rose this week when Florence mayor
Matteo Renzi, a rising force in the PD, was not named as one of
the party's two Tuscan 'grand electors'.
In the La Repubblica interview Friday, Berlusconi added
that he would not seek an "amnesty" that would free him from
legal problems.
These include a four-year prison term he is appealing for
fraud at his media empire and a trial into allegations he paid
for sex with an underage prostitute.
He said he did not need any such measure as he was
confident of acquittal on all counts even if the cases reach the
supreme court.

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