Martedì, 23 Ottobre 2018

Renzi under fire as centre-left infighting escalates


(By Paul Virgo)
Rome, April 15 - Infighting in Italy's centre left
escalated on Monday after the man widely seen as its future
head, Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi, came under fire after a
series of controversial statements blasting the current
The 38-year-old, who has been compared to a young Tony
Blair, has openly criticised the chief of his Democratic Party
(PD), Pier Luigi Bersani, over the handling of the impasse
caused by February's inconclusive general election.
Bersani defeated Renzi in the centre-left leadership
primaries in December. But Bersani conducted a colourless
campaign and, although his alliance came first in the vote by a
narrow margin, it failed to win a working majority in the
Italy still has no government as Bersani did not garner
support for a post-election pact with the anti-establishment
5-Star Movement and ruled out forming a grand coalition with
ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom
(PdL) party.
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has tried to break the
deadlock by asking a group of 10 'wise men' to prepare a
government programme capable of winning cross-party support that
was presented on Friday
Renzi has said Bersani's approach 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.
Bersani hit back at the weekend, saying he would not accept
such insults even from his father, prompting Renzi to respond
that he was "asking for the insults".
The Florence mayor also angered members of his own party by
rejecting the possibility that two of its high-profile members
could become the next Italian president.
He ruled out former Senate speaker Franco Marini on the
grounds that he failed to win re-election to parliament in
He also gave the thumbs down to PD Senator Anna
Finocchiaro, a former equal opportunities minister, after she
was recently photographed getting her bodyguards to carry her
shopping for her on a trip to Ikea.
"I find the attack Matteo Renzi directed at me to be truly
pitiful, both for the tone and the content," Finocchiaro said
Monday, stressing that she had not touted herself as a
presidential candidate.
"And I find it unacceptable and despicable that it should
come from a member of my own party.
"My opinion is that someone who behaves like this might win
elections, but he does not have the human qualities that are
indispensable to be a real political leader and statesman".
The bitterness within the PD has reached such levels that
there have been talks of a split.
Bersani has said there is no danger of this and Renzi has
said he will not leave the PD even if fellow party members try
to kick him out.
Another senior PD member, former education minister Beppe
Fioroni, pleaded with Renzi to stop his attacks on the party's
top brass.
"In this way Matteo Renzi keeps putting the PD constantly
in tension," Fioroni told Rome-based daily La Repubblica.
"I invite him to stop because we're close to breaking
"If we get there, there won't be a split, but an implosion.
It won't be just the party that suffers, but the whole country".
Renzi does have his backers within the party though, who
say he is simply saying things as they are.
"I don't think that you get very far with the politics of
insulting," said PD MP Simona Bonafe' referring to Finocchiaro's
"If saying things to someone's face and saying them clearly
produces these results, maybe the Democratic Party should have a
good hard look at itself. We'll keep going with our line of
saying things to people's faces".
Renzi may have alienated many within his party, but his
popularity outside of it is high.
A poll last week said his approval rate was now twice that
of the three much older leaders who emerged in a virtual tie
from February's election.
He clocked a rating of 56% compared to 27% for all three of
the leaders who have failed to agree on a government 49 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

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