Mercoledì, 24 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Berlusconi and Bersani back Marini in presidential vote

English
© ANSA

(By Paul Virgo)
Rome, April 18 - Lawmakers from the Upper and Lower
House of parliament and representatives of Italy's regional
governments on Thursday's started the first ballot to elect a
new president, with the two biggest parties backing former
Senate Speaker Franco Marini.
Pier Luigi Bersani, the head of the biggest group in
parliament, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), proposed
Marini as a candidate who could win cross-party support and
represent national unity.
Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi has said his centre-right
People of Freedom party will vote for Marini, who is from the
ex-Christian Democrat wing of the PD and a former chief of
Catholic trade union CISL.
"Franco Marini is a positive, serious person and this is
not a defeat for us," Berlusconi told a meeting of lawmakers
from the PdL, which came second in February's inconclusive
general election.
The regionalist Northern League, which is allied with the
PdL, and outgoing Premier Mario Monti's Civic Choice party also
said the would back Marini.
But Bersani's decision to opt for Marini, a 80-year-old who
failed to win re-election to parliament in February, risks
splitting the centre-left.
Puglia Governor Nichi Vendola's left-wing SEL party, which
ran on the same ticket as the PD in February, has said it will
vote for Stefano Rodota', the candidate of the
anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S).
Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi, the rising star of the PD who
came second in December's primary to select the centre-left's
premier candidate, has said the 50-odd parliamentarians loyal to
him will not vote for Marini.
Renzi said Wednesday that voting for Marini would be like
playing a "prank" on the nation, adding that Rodota' would be a
better candidate, along with several other figures from the
centre left and the centre right.
"Can you imagine him on the phone with (US President
Barack) Obama?," said Renzi, who accused Bersani of letting
Berlusconi pick the candidate and admitted he had considered
leaving the PD, while stressing he would not.
The situation means that Marini is far from certain of
gaining the two-thirds majority needed in the first ballot.
Marini said Thursday that he hoped the PD would find
"strong unity today" and ruled out speculation that the
divisions over his candidacy would cause a split within the
party.
"What split are you talking about?" he told Mediaset
television Thursday.
The M5S, which won about a quarter of the vote in February
after tapping into widespread disenchantment with the
established political class, picked Rodota' after two other
presidential candidates, journalist Milena Gabanelli and
war-zone doctor Gino Strada, declined.
Rodota', 82, is a constitutional lawyer, former head of
Italy's privacy authority and former Communist and centre-left
MP.
He came third in an online vote of M5S members staged
Monday behind Gabanelli and Strada.
A majority of two thirds of the 1007 voters is needed for a
candidate be elected head of state in the first three ballots,
which are held in the House.
After that a simple majority of over half is required.
Each ballot is expected to take four or five hours.
There will be two ballots per day until a successor to
President Giorgio Napolitano is elected.

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