Lunedì, 24 Settembre 2018

Centre left's divisions aired by president-vote shock


(By Paul Virgo) (see related stories)
Rome, April 18 - The Italian centre left's
divisions were embarrassingly exposed on Thursday when the
Democratic Party's (PD) candidate did not prevail in the first
ballot to elect the new president after an internal rebellion.
Senate Speaker Franco Marini failed to win the two-thirds
majority needed in the first round, even though ex-premier
Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party
and other parties were also backing him.
PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani selected Marini, a member of
the Catholic wing of his party, in the hope that he could win
broad cross-party support after talks with Berlusconi.
Instead, Marini obtained 521 votes in the first ballot,
well short of the magic number of 672, with many PD lawmakers
coming out against an 80-year-old seen by some as a
representative of Italy's tired old political class.
The outcome is set to increase the pressure on Bersani, who
was already under fire over his handling of Italy's political
deadlock since February's general election.
His centre-left alliance came first in the election but
failed to win a working majority in the Senate after he
conducted a colourless campaign.
Italy still has no government as Bersani failed in a bid to
reach out to the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), which
holds the balance of power in the Senate.
He has refused to consider forming a broad coalition
government with the PdL, while at the same time rejecting calls
for another vote, saying that this would be equally inconclusive
under the current election law.
His most vocal critic has been Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi,
the rising star of the PD who came second to him in the primary
to select the centre left's premier candidate.
Renzi announced Wednesday that the 50-odd parliamentarians
loyal to him would not vote for Marini, saying electing him
would be like playing a "prank" on the nation. He pointed out
that Marini failed to win re-election to parliament in February.
But the rebellion against Marini went beyond Renzi's
supporters in the party.
"I didn't vote for Marini. I was undecided about whether to
cast a blank paper or vote for (M5S candidate Stefano) Rodota',"
said PD Senator Laura Puppato, who also ran in the primary.
"In the end I voted for Rodota'," she added, saying she was
confused about why Bersani had failed to move after M5S leader
Beppe Grillo hinted he would soften his line on a government
pact if the PD voted for his movement's presidential candidate.
"Bersani had done extraordinary things until yesterday.
Then he turned towards the open sea just as he was about to
enter the port".
Former centre-left leader Walter Veltroni said Bersani
should now drop Marini and try to find another candidate.
"The result of the vote for the president is so clear that
it would be a big mistake to insist in going down this road,"
Veltroni told ANSA.
"The Democratic Party should offer a name or a limited list
of names of people who don't belong to a political party and are
esteemed and competent, like (1999-2006 President Carlo Azeglio)
Thursday's second ballot is likely to be inconclusive as
the PD has told its electors to cast blank papers and the PdL
was expected to do the same.
It is not clear whether the PD has done so to have a pause
for thought or whether it is simply a tactic to effectively put
things on hold in the second and third votes with the intention
of proposing Marini again in the fourth ballot, when a simple
majority of 504 will suffice.
"I suffered great unease in the first ballot as I was torn
between a responsibility to the party leader and awareness of
how people outside the world of politics felt," said Simonetta
Rubinato, a PD MP from Veneto.
"In the end I decided to cast a blank paper in order to not
be an accomplice in a decision that was rightly seen as being
submissive to the will of Berlusconi".

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