Venerdì, 19 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Renzi set to swing wrecking ball

English
© ANSA

(By Denis Greenan).
Rome, September 2 - Matteo Renzi returned to the
squabbling world of Italian politics this weekend to show he was
still intent on one thing: swinging a wrecking ball through it
all, including his own party.
The Florence mayor, who sprang to prominence as wanting to
'rottamare' (scrap, junk, demolish) politics-as-usual, was
acclaimed by throngs of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) at
its annual national festival in Genoa Sunday night, and sold out
the traditional Bologna Festa dell'Unita' Tuesday night.
The loudest cheers Sunday came when he promised a "radical
revolution" not only of the PD, whose factional rifts and
half-hearted regeneration were blamed for its failure to win
February's general election, but Italy's political and economic
system as a whole.
"We have to put our ideas, our left-wing ideas, into
practice," said the mayor, who is widely seen as a shoo-in for
PD leader when a congress votes late this year.
"We have to send to the wrecking yard not only a
discredited type of politics but also whole sections of the
economy," said the 38-year-old, who has often been likened to
the energetic young Tony Blair who forged New Labour into the
steamroller that crushed Britain's long-dominant Conservative
Party.
"We must not be afraid of seeking votes in the centre-right
electorate," he stressed, in a message that has been
increasingly accepted even on the PD left after the two-month
post-election debacle that led to an unnatural emergency reform
coalition with its traditional foes, Silvio Berlusconi's People
of Freedom (PdL) party.
"We can't afford to be too sniffy," he said.
Renzi warned that the PD should not let the PdL "get away
with claiming credit for the only electoral promise that
Berlusconi has ever kept," the abolition of a hated property tax
called IMU.
Instead, he said, the PD should take a firm hold of the
government agenda for however long it lasts - threatened as it
is by a looming vote on ejecting Berlusconi from the Senate
because of a tax-fraud conviction, a "wound to democracy" the
three-time premier says will spell the end for the left-right
alliance.
Before the next elections, whether they come before the PD
congress or after, Renzi said, "we have to carry forward serious
proposals on cutting red tape to get the economy working again,
achieving acceptable levels of social justice and, crucially,
changing the electoral law".
The 'Pig Sty' electoral law, an ugly hybrid created by a
previous Berlusconi government specifically to stymie his
opponents, is widely blamed for the inconclusive February vote.
Renzi promised to "cut a swathe through" the PD-PdL
haggling over a replacement for it.
"I want to get things done, as I have in Florence, do them
quickly and efficiently, and sweep out the old order," he said,
instead of having to be content with the "minor, gradual
tinkering" PD Premier Enrico Letta has had to settle for because
of his uneasy relations with the PdL.
"Forget about that screwdriver Letta is using, a much
bigger, sharper and heftier instrument is needed.
"But I'll use it to unite it the party too, forcing all the
factions to pull together," said the mayor.
Renzi is an odds-on favourite to claim the PD leadership at
the party conference, although some think Letta might give him a
run for his money if he can present significant achievements a
centre-left party can be proud of.
But for now the headline reform most PD voters are thinking
of is replacing IMU with a service tax, a move that could hit
the worse-off as hard or perhaps even harder than the best-off,
according to left-wing economists.
Letta may have wrecked his chances with his perceived
capitulation to Berlusconi on IMU, pundits say, and voters are
keener than ever to see what Renzi's wrecking ball can do.

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