Giovedì, 18 Ottobre 2018

Letta talks to parties in govt-formation bid


(updates previous).
(By Denis Greenan).
Rome, April 25 - Centre-left Democratic Party (PD)
deputy head Enrico Letta talked to parties Thursday to break
Italy's political logjam and form a government two months after
inconclusive elections.
Newly re-elected President Giorgio Napolitano tapped Letta
Wednesday after lashing parties for not agreeing on a
broad-backed reform government and saying he would quit if they
Letta, 46, would be Italy's third-youngest premier if he
pulls off the tricky job of getting old enemies PD and
scandal-plagued conservative ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's
People of Freedom (PdL) party to bury their differences.
"The government is more important than the person who leads
it," Berlusconi said.
Italian media said Thursday Letta's likelihood of success
was "too close to call".
Letta's aim is to form a slimmed-down 18-strong government
before the financial markets open Monday, media reported.
Hurdles include the PdL's electoral pledge to pay back a
property tax, which the PD thinks is not possible given EU
budget constraints, and deep divisions over the justice system.
Many in the left wing of the PD, which is riven by factional
squabbling after outgoing leader Pier Luigi Bersani failed to
get two candidates elected, are dead against an alliance with
arch enemy Berlusconi, involved in trials for paying an underage
prostitute for sex and tax fraud at his Mediaset media empire.
Bersani resigned amid a PD meltdown and parties begged
Napolitano, 87, to serve an unprecedented second term.
In his re-inaugural speech he lashed "deaf" and "sterile"
parties who have been discredited by corruption scandals for
failing to pass reforms including a new electoral law that could
produce a clear winner, and measures to create jobs and lift the
economy out of its worst recession in 20 years.
On February 25 the PD's alliance got a majority in the House
but not the equally powerful Senate, leading to a hung
parliament where the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S)
led by comedian Beppe Grillo holds the balance of power.
Berlusconi's alliance came in a very close second and the
three-time premier has since been calling for a grand coalition
with the PD.
Bersani rejected this and tried to reach out to M5S, which
is refusing to work with either party.
On Thursday Napolitano appealed to the parties to show
"courage and determination" to seal a deal on a left-right
coalition which would also be backed by outgoing Premier Mario
Monti's Civic Choice.
"We are in a time of ... crisis," Napolitano said at the
national Museum of Liberation in central Rome, noting the
memorial was a powerful reminder of the value of courage and
determination shown by the Resistance in the Second World War.
"We have much to learn about how to address these crucial
moments: with courage, firmness and sense of unity that were
decisive for winning the battle of the Resistance".
The PD is reluctantly considering the grand coalition amid
plummeting poll numbers and the possibility PD left-wingers will
peel off to join its election-campaign former ally, the Left,
Ecology and Freedom party, in opposition.
PdL leader Angelino Alfano said Wednesday the PD must fully
back a Letta government or be responsible for a weak
administration tasked with taking Italy back to the polls in
June, possibly with a new electoral law.
Berlusconi said the new government must stoke growth in the
eurozone's third-biggest economy. He reiterated an 8-point plan
which has a couple of points in common with an 8-point agenda of
change Bersani futilely proposed to M5S.
Letta has also said he will push for the EU to ease
austerity policies - a call that was backed Thursday by Brussels
and the International Monetary Fund.
David Lipton, first deputy managing director with the IMF,
said European politicians must back away from austerity measures
and find lasting policies that will boost economic growth.
"There is ... a risk that Europe could fall into
stagnation, which would have very serious implications for
households, companies, banks and other institutions," he said.

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