Domenica, 21 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Renzi's rise seems irresistible but new rival seen

English
© ANSA

(By Denis Greenan).
Rome, April 12 - Matteo Renzi's seemingly
irresistible rise to the top of the Democratic Party (PD) was
corroborated by opinion polls Friday, even as a potential future
rival, government minister Fabrizio Barca, threw down the
gauntlet by unveiling a platform to reform both the PD and
Italian government at large.
The youthful Renzi's popularity is now twice that of the
three much older leaders who emerged in a virtual tie from
February's inconclusive general election, the SWG polling agency
said.
The outspoken Florence mayor is unequivocally the rising
star in the PD, led by Pier Luigi Bersani, who came first in the
election but failed to get a majority in the Senate.
In SWG's poll the 38-year-old Tuscan administrator clocked a
rating of 56% compared to 27% for all three of the leaders who
have failed to agree on a government 45 days after the vote: the
61-year-old Bersani, 76-year-old centre-right leader Silvio
Berlusconi, the close runner-up, and 64-year-old
anti-establishment comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo.
Grillo's M5S movement holds the balance of power in the hung
parliament while Bersani and Berlusconi have been sparring for
45 days over the ex-premier's proposal for a left-right
'grand coalition'.
Renzi's standing has grown since he publicly urged the PD
and Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party to strike a deal
or go back to the polls, while Bersani has been hurt by a
perceived insistence on wanting a precarious PD-led minority
government, amid rising tensions within the centre-left party.
More than half of Italians, 55%, now want Renzi to take over
from Bersani as PD leader, SWG said.
Some 40% of PD voters said the same thing.
Only 10% of the general electorate and 29% of the party
think Bersani, leader of the old guard Renzi has openly
campaigned to "scrap", should stay on as PD leader.
Amid media speculation the PD might split, Bersani has
denied meddling with Tuscan PD voting to deny Renzi a post as
one of the electors of the next Italian president starting next
Thursday.
PD 'old guard' figurehead Massimo D'Alema, an ex-premier,
met with Renzi Thursday and said it was a "mistake" to stop the
mayor becoming a 'grand elector' in the poll to replace Giorgio
Napolitano.
Bersani, D'Alema and Renzi have insisted the PD will not
break up.
Renzi said Thursday night he would not form his own party
and would not leave the PD, "not even if they try to kick me
out".
As the Renzi-Bersani spat dominated the news this week,
outgoing Territorial Cohesion Minister Barca, 59, sneaked
quietly onto the scene Thursday night after speculation he might
run for the PD leadership.
Barca took out membership of the PD late Thursday and on
Friday released his plan to give Italy not only a new
government, but a new form of government.
Barca has won praise for targeting funds as the minister
whose brief is to bring Italy's poorer South closer to the rich
North since his appointment in November 2011 in the emergency
technocrat government of Mario Monti.
"Every single experience of my 16 months of work...leads to
this dry political conclusion: without a new form of (political)
party, no one can govern Italy", Barca said in presenting his
platform to a media scrum in Rome.
The public distrusts the mainstream political parties and
their "persistent failure of good government," he said, in
introducing the seven-chapter document that he has developed for
a left-wing party that would be anchored in Italy's
Constitution.
Barca's vision of the new party would be one that promises
to make better use of public funds, instill stronger civic
virtues, and would commit to urban renewal.
The Italian media have been speculated for weeks that
Barca, a long-time economy ministry advisor who first made his
name in the early 1990s as one of then-premier Carlo Azeglio
Ciampi's young gurus, might provide an alternative to Renzi.
Barca, the son of a heavyweight in the old Italian
Communist Party (PCI), one of the precursors of the PD, joined
the party Thursday night.
For now he has said he is only aiming to become a voice on
the party executive.
But observers see him as a possible alternative successor
to leader Pier Luigi Bersani, who is being increasingly
challenged by the younger, more dynamic, media-savvy and
centrist Renzi.
Barca said he had sent his "document" to both Bersani and
Renzi, as well as the leader of the other main party in the
centre-left coalition, Nichi Vendola of Left, Ecology and
Freedom (SEL).
"I hope personal ambitions do not prevail or pollute the
party's efforts, I hope a debate about ideas and not
personalities will be opened on this text," he said.
Barca's announcement came as Napolitano said that the 10
experts he asked to prepare a government programme capable of
winning cross-party support had found "common ground".
Napolitano asked for the parties to show "good will" in
agreeing to implement all or part of it - although he stressed
the task of shepherding the next government into office, or
callling a snap vote, would fall to his successor.

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