Italy’s Renzi Urges Party to Form Left-Right Government

The mayor of Florence seems to be preparing for another leadership challenge.

Florence mayor Matteo Renzi gives a speech in Sulmona, Italy, September 30, 2012
Florence mayor Matteo Renzi gives a speech in Sulmona, Italy, September 30, 2012 (Google+/Matteo Renzi)

Florence mayor Matteo Renzi has urged the leader of his Democratic Party, Pier Luigi Bersani, to either form a ruling coalition with the right or call new elections.

“We cannot stop here, waiting for Bersani to get support,” he told La Repubblica newspaper.

Calls for a grand coalition

According to Renzi, who lost a leadership challenge against Bersani in December, the left, which has a majority in the lower chamber of parliament but not in the Senate, where conservatives have nearly as many seats, has little choice but to enter into a “grand coalition” with former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Bersani has ruled out such a centrist pact and tried to persuade the anti-establishment Five Star Movement to support him instead.

It has so far refused to join any coalition, although it might endorse specific policies, ranging from anti-graft legislation to green energy programs.

Berlusconi has already said he is willing to form a left-right coalition, provided his party gets the presidency.

Italy’s three largest trade unions, allied to the Democrats, also want Bersani to form a government “at any cost,” even with a party that is unsympathetic to labor. The alternative would be reelections which the Five Star Movement might win.

Appealing to the center

If there are new elections, the Democrats will probably replace Bersani with Menzi, a social democrat who is seen as more appealing to center-right voters.

The mayor himself claims he can do better against Berlusconi. “If I run, he will be in trouble,” he told La Repubblica.

Renzi previously argued in an interview with Rome’s Il Messaggero newspaper that if the Democrats had been willing to “talk to disillusioned center-right voters” who again opted for Berlusconi instead, “perhaps we would have won the election.”

A recent SWG survey showed 28 percent of Italians backing Renzi for the prime ministership against 14 percent for Bersani and 10 percent for Berlusconi.

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