Martedì, 23 Ottobre 2018
ROME

>>>ANSA/ Renzi says it's 'game over' for Berlusconi

English
© ANSA

(By Denis Greenan).
Rome, September 12 - Florence Mayor Matteo Renzo
threw down the gauntlet in the race to become Italian
centre-left leader Wednesday night and ruled out he would have
to face their arch-enemy Silvio Berlusconi if he wins.
"Yes, of course I want to become leader of the Democratic
Party," Renzi said on Italy's top-rating late-night current
affairs show, Porta a Porta, where he was interviewed as the
sole guest.
"But I don't think I'll be coming up against Berlusconi.
"It's game over for him".
In what Italian media judged an impressive performance, the
mayor known for his pledge to 'scrap' the PD old guard
criticised party colleague and Premier Enrico Letta for giving
into Berlusconi on the centre-right leader's flagship electoral
pledge, the abolition of a property tax for all Italians, rich
and poor.
"I would have kept it for those who can afford to pay it,"
he said.
He promised "radical change" if he become party leader.
Three-time premier and media mogul Berlusconi is facing
ejection from the Senate after a tax-fraud conviction.
His centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party was quick to
scoff at Renzi's claim Thursday, saying their charismatic leader
would continue to guide them even if, as appears inevitable, he
is removed from the Senate.
"Berlusconi will keep his place as centre-right leader,"
said PdL heavyweight and former transport minister Altero
Matteoli.
The PdL's head in Tuscany, the region around Florence, said
"it's not up to Renzi to decide when the game is over for
anyone.
"It won't be up to the magistrates either, but the
sovereignty of the people, called to decide winners and losers
in any election".
Renzi is widely tipped to head the PD against the PdL in an
election that was supposed to come in about a year, after Letta
completed an ambitious but limited programme of reforms
including changing the electoral law that produced an
inconclusive result in February and led to the unprecedented
PD-PdL match-up after two months of stalemate.
But the alliance's already fragile stability is being
threatened by the PdL's vow to topple it if the PD votes, as it
says the law forces it to do, to implement Berlusconi's ejection
from the Senate.
That could mean an election this winter, before the PD's
congress, meaning hot favourite Renzi would not have been
elected leader by then.
But the Italian media are speculating Renzi might be allowed
to replace caretaker leader Guglielmo Epifani even without a
full congress vote.
Whatever happens, Renzi's only real leadership challenger
looks like being Letta, especially if the premier can boast
other solid achievements to regain the confidence of a widely
disenchanted electorate.
Renzi had another, even sharper swipe at Letta Wednesday
night, hinting that he might be "thinking too much about hanging
on to his seat (as premier)".
This brought complaints from the small anti-Renzi factions
in the fractious PD, and Renzi was called to a fence-mending
meeting with the premier Thursday.
Opinion polls say the telegenic 38-year-old mayor, who has
been likened to a young Tony Blair, is Italy's most popular
politician, and he is believed to have broad cross-party appeal.
The only figure on the other side with similar political and
media savvy is Berlusconi, Italian commentators say.
Despite his age, 76, a raft of other legal troubles and the
prospect of spending a year under house arrest, the canny old
campaigner is said to have enough fire in his belly for a last
stand.

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