Sabato, 22 Settembre 2018
ROME

Center-left bigwigs meet in Rome over party future

English
© ANSA

Rome, August 8 - Italy's center-left bigwigs are
meeting in Rome Thursday to discuss the future of their divided
Democratic Party (PD), which heads the fragile coalition
government in partnership with the party of recently convicted
former premier Silvio Berlusconi.
Focus has centered around the charismatic mayor of Florence
Matteo Renzi, a favorite among voters to front the party in next
elections, but controversial among his own ranks for moderate
views that often clash with those of party traditionalists such
as longtime trade unionist Guglielmo Epifani, the PD's interim
secretary.
The party has been without an elected leader since former
secretary Pier Luigi Bersani resigned in April amid rifts that
saw two of the PD's own candidates to be Italian president
scuppered by internal rebellions.
On Wednesday Renzi called for a party congress to end the
interim and hold elections by November for secretary, a position
which often translates to nominee for premier.
Party loyalists have stressed that the title should not
come with an automatic nomination, which could pose problems for
sitting premier Letta, who is not seen as a contender for
secretary.
Renzi's supporters hold that whoever wins the secretary
position should de facto represent the party in elections.
The 38-year-old Florence mayor has been seen as a top
candidate, but his share of the limelight has diminished since
another young PD man, Enrico Letta, was sworn in as premier in
April after being chosen by President Giorgio Napolitano to head
an unprecedented left-right administration and end two months of
political deadlock after an inconclusive February vote.
At times fellow party members have shown skepticism over
his political ambitions, accusing him of wishing for the current
government to fall in order for him to take over whatever
government may follow.
Recently he has expressed sympathy with members of the PD
incensed over their party's coalition with the center-right
People of Freedom (PdL) party of Berlusconi, who for the first
time in years of legal entanglements was definitively convicted
last week for fraud at his media empire Mediaset.
He is expected to serve a year either under house arrest or
performing community service.
Leading up to Berlusconi's sentencing, a growing faction of
PD lawmakers expressed disgust over working in alliance with
members of a party headed by a now convicted criminal, adding
another layer of instability to the fragile executive.
On Thursday, Renzi said he was "rooting for Premier Letta"
but added that the government needed to prove itself by "doing"
rather than "surviving", and that if it failed to govern it
should not go looking for "alibis" outside of parliament.

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