Rome, February 17 - Democratic Party (PD) leader and ex-premier Matteo Renzi on Friday appealed to a dissenting leftwing minority within the party not to split and instead express its views at this weekend's assembly. "Don't go, come, take part, the doors are open, no one is ejecting anyone, let's start talking about Italy again," he said in an interview with Corriere della Sera. On Facebook, later, he said: "We must stop talking about issues that only interest Roman palazzi. And start giving solutions to Italian's problems again." Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, head of a middle-ground faction, tried a last-minute mediation, saying a split now would be "incomprehensible" and urging Renzi to concede some ground on the date of the party congress and a general election, as well as his alleged bid to turn the PD into a personal party. "Those who have most responsibility must also be the most generous, and make the biggest effort," he said. On the leftwing minority side, PD leadership candidate Michele Emiliano, the governor of Puglia, said "Renzi is Napoleonic, and so he's heading for some Waterloos. "Let him avert the biggest disaster of the European left. The solution is one step away, it would be enough to hold the congress in May". Renzi wants a congress in April and a general election in September. The minority, which includes former leader Pier Luigi Bersani and two other leadership candidates, Tuscany Governor Enrico Rossi and former House whip Roberto Speranza, want a congress to be put off and Premier Paolo Gentiloni to serve out the government's term until February next year.
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