The race for the new government starts today. Bookmakers in London give Bersani 1.8/1 as Prime Minister. And it will be a Napolitano-Bersani match because the secretary of the Democratic Party aims to a full mandate. The Secretary of the Democratic Party will have to explore the possibility of alliances in order for the relative majority he achieved at the Senate after the elections to become absolute, as it is already at the House of Chambers. In the event of a failure of Bersani’s attempt, Napolitano would try for a term government to be led by an independent personality with the aim to do only few things, like ensuring international commitments. Mario Monti cannot be among these personalities, being an MP now and leader of his own political party.
National elections held February 24-25 ended inconclusively with no single party or alliance garnering enough votes to obtain a majority in both chambers of the Italian parliament – an outcome which has cast doubt on the ability of the country’s politicians to find some sort of agreement which will allow the formation of a stable government.
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano began consultations with political leaders on Wednesday to try to find a way of forginga government. Senate speaker Pietro Grasso said after meeting Napolitano the president was determined to reach an accord, saying there was “an absolute necessity to give the country a government”. Napolitano would take “all roads possible“, he said.
Italy‘s political stalemate and the prospect of months of uncertainty has created alarm across Europe just as the standoff over bank deposits in Cyprus reawakened fears that the euro zone debt crisis could flare up again. Center-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani, who won a majority in the lower house but not in the Senate, commands the largest bloc in parliament but cannot govern unless he has support from one of the other parties. However, there has been no sign that an accord is possible with either former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi‘s center-right alliance, the second biggest force in parliament, or the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement led by ex-comic Beppe Grillo, which holds the balance of power.
If no agreement can be struck between parties that are bitterly divided, Italy faces the prospect of a brief period under a caretaker government followed by a return to the polls, possibly as early as June. Napolitano also meets minor parties, including Prime Minister Mario Monti’s centrist group on Wednesday before the main meetings on Thursday when he sees representatives from the 5-Star Movement, Berlusconi‘s People of Freedom (PDL) party and Bersani’s Democratic Party (PD).
Bersani, 61, received a small boost at the weekend when his candidates were elected the speakers of the two houses of parliament, despite the center left’s lack of a majority in the upper house. Both speakers announced late on Tuesday that they would take a 30 percent wage cut and urged other parliamentarians to do the same, a move that followed an example set by 5-Star members elected as local officials in Sicily last year who gave up most of their salaries and used the savings to fund small businesses.
Bersani is proposing to present a limited package of reforms aimed at fighting corruption and creating jobs that he hopes can be backed by the 5-Star Movement. Given the fractious climate, the prospects of a minority government surviving more than a short time are slim but Bersani has little alternative. “The PD is not changing our line, we’ll go to the consultations with the proposals which were voted by the party leadership immediately after the election,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
Italy, the euro zone’s third-largest economy, can ill afford a prolonged political crisis after the turmoil which brought down Berlusconi’s last government and dragged the single currency to the brink of disaster just 16 months ago. Its economy is deep in recession, and unemployment is at record levels especially among the young. Its 2 trillion-euro ($2.6 trillion) public debt is dangerously vulnerable to bond market volatility and any sharp rise in interest rates. However, far from prompting the parties to cooperate as they did when Monti’s technocrat government took over from Berlusconi in 2011, the crisis appears to have deepened hostility. Grillo, who has pledged not to give a vote of confidence to a government led by any other party, warned followers against falling into a “trap” after a handful of rebels voted with the center left in the election of the Senate speaker on Saturday.
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said today the only viable new government would be a cross-party alliance between his center-right coalition and the center-left bloc led by Pier Luigi Bersani. Berlusconi said Italy needed a “government of national accord”. However Berlusconi, who is due to meet Napolitano on Thursday, said Bersani appeared to favor an alliance with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement of former comic Beppe Grillo. “We have declared ourselves open to this but Bersani and his supporters keep stubbornly paying court to Grillo and the ‘Grillini’ even though they only keep getting rebuffed,” he told his own Italia 1 television. That offer was rejected as “indecent” by the PD, prompting Berlusconi to pledge street protests if parliament appointed a center-left head of state.
A rally organized by the PDL, called “All for Silvio!” is already planned for Saturday to protest against what his supporters say is a political campaign by magistrates against the 76-year-old billionaire.