Giovedì, 18 Ottobre 2018

M5S votes on president candidate with no deal in sight


(By Denis Greenan).
Rome, April 15 - The anti-establishment 5-Star
Movement (M5S) on Monday voted on a shortlist of candidates to
replace Giorgio Napolitano as Italian president next month, with
no deal in sight between the top parties that emerged from an
inconclusive February general election.
M5S leader, comedian-turned politician Beppe Grillo, pulled
out of the 'primaries' while thanking his supporters for
honouring him, while Grillo's guru Gianroberto Casaleggio said
the movement shouldn't choose any of the political candidates
that had been shortlisted.
"We want an impartial figure, not someone from any of the
parties, someone who can represent all Italians," Casaleggio
If movement members heed Casaleggio's call, that would
appear to rule out former European commissioner and Radical
Party heavyweight Emma Bonino and former centre-left premier
Romano Prodi.
The Italian media are looking at the poll, whose results
will come out Tuesday, for an idea of what a possible consensus
candidate could be for the two parties that came out just ahead
of Grillo in the general election, Pier Luigi Bersani's
centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and ex-premier Silvio
Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party.
"M5S might be able to stake a claim to becoming a king
maker," said Italy's top daily, Corriere della Sera.
"One thing is sure, the PD and PdL don't look like agreeing
on anyone any time soon, and perhaps Grillo's candidate decision
could give them a useful nudge," it said.
A PD-Pdl deal is not essential for the election because the
centre left almost has a majority of the 1007 'grand electors'
who will start voting Thursday.
Pundits say they could easily attract some centrists to get
their candidate elected when it comes down to a simple majority
in the fourth ballot, and not the three-thirds required in the
first three.
But given Italy's widening political and social rifts -
dramatically captured by the huge protest vote that gave Grillo
the balance of power in a hung parliament - pundits say the
country is in deep need of a cross-party figure capable of
expressing a large degree of parliamentary and national unity,
as Italian presidents traditionally have.
Even though M5S House Whip Roberta Lombardi reiterated
Monday that "we're only going to vote for our own candidate",
pundits think a Grillo candidate who also garners support from
the two other main parties would be a godsend at a time of deep
division and disenchantment.
The people on Grillo's shortlist include Prodi; Bonino;
war-zone doctor Gino Strada; Supreme Court Chief Justice
Ferdinando Imposimato; respected investigative journalist Milena
Gabanelli; institutional lawyers Stefano Rodota' and Gustavo
Zagrebelsky; former Palermo prosecutor Gian Carlo Caselli; and
Nobel Literature Laureate Dario Fo.
Fo, however is just nine months younger than the 87-year-old
Napolitano, and has already said he does not want to be head of
Strada, 64, Imposimato, 77, and Gabanelli, 59, came top of
the shortlist, in that order. None of them has connections to a
specific party, though both Strada and Gabanelli are left-wing,
and would thus seem to fit the bill after Casaleggio's diktat.
But according to Corriere della Sera, Bersani is set to
propose three names: former premier Giuliano Amato, a respected
institutional experts despite the nickname he got as aide to
late Socialist premier Bettino Craxi, 'Doctor Subtle'; Prodi;
and ex-Senate Speaker Franco Marini.
"Bersani is going to ask the PdL to pick from a threesome
rather than advancing one take-it-or-leave it candidate," the
Milan-based newspaper said.
Whoever is elected will have the job of trying to shepherd a
new government into existence despite Bersani's continuing
resistance to an alliance with Berlusconi, or else call a snap
vote, expected in July.
According to recent opinion polls, the impasse has boosted
the PdL past the PD, with M5S also losing some ground.
Some observers had speculated the two old-guard parties
might form a 'targeted government' to pass voter-friendly laws
and deflate Grillo's support - while Grillo was banking on what
he called an 'inciucio' ('stitch-up' or backroom deal) to
strengthen anti-establishment sentiment and make M5S the top
party next time around.
Meanwhile a poll released Monday said more and more Italians
are getting tired of Grillo's stonewalling tactics - but
supporters of his movement are giving them ever-stronger
The survey by SWG market researchers found that about 62%
of Italians do not approve of the strategy taken by the
M5S MPs.
But 76% of those who say they are members of the
movement back him to the hilt.
The survey also found that 43% of those surveyed approved
of the rookie parliamentarians elected under the M5S banner, a
much lower approval rating than the 92% approval reported by
party members.

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