Rome

Italy under Bersani won't be 'ungovernable'

Centre-left leader says will continue Monti agenda

Italy under Bersani won't be 'ungovernable'

Rome, December 13 - Pier Luigi Bersani, the leader of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), said Thursday he was "certain" Italy would not be "ungovernable" after upcoming general elections. Bersani, the favourite to be the next premier, said his coalition was ready for "dialogue" with centrists if it does not have a working majority in parliament. He also sought to dispel concerns that his ability to effectively govern Italy could be hampered by his alliance with the left-wing SEL party of Puglia Governor Nichi Vendola. "Vendola is the governor of one of the most important Italian regions and he is the leader of a solidly pro-European party and he signed a pact with us," Bersani told reporters at the Foreign Press Association in Rome. "SEL is a precious party that brings awareness about issues concerning the environment and rights". Bersani, whose party has a significant lead in the polls, also reiterated his commitment to continue with Premier Mario Monti's policies if he wins the elections. Monti has passed austerity measures since taking the helm of an emergency technocrat government last year. These have helped move Italy away from the centre of the eurozone crisis as they boosted investor confidence that the country is putting its financial house in order. The former European commissioner has also won plaudits on the international stage for introducing a series of structural economic reforms designed to revive an economy that has been hampered by weak growth for a decade. But there have been concerns from some quarters that the path Monti has taken, which is in line with Italy's commitment to the European Union's new Fiscal Compact, may not continue when the political parties resume power. Bersani said these fears were unfounded. He also went on to say that a government led by him would try to carry out more reforms than has been possible for Monti's administration, which has relied on support from a range of parties, including ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party. "We wanted Monti (as premier) and I interpret the Monti agenda as an agenda of rigour, of respecting European commitments, of working to have an impact on the development of European policy," Bersani said. "These are points of no return. I want to launch more reforms than Monti because you need a cohesive, political majority to implement them". He added that "the anti-European, conservative Italian right put the brakes" on Monti. Bersani said his credentials are shown by the fact that he passed a series of important economic liberalisation measures when he was industry minister in Romano Prodi's 2006-2008 centre-left government. "In the past I introduced reforms, so I think you can say that we will govern by respecting European commitments and we will not be lazy about change". Italy is likely to have elections in mid-to-late February after Monti said at the weekend he would resign once the 2013 budget law is approved. Monti, who became premier in November 2011 when the financial crisis forced Berlusconi to resign from office, made the announcement after the PdL said it had withdrawn its support from his government. Bersani also said he would not focus his election campaign on Berlusconi as he is confident the media magnate has no chance of winning a fourth term at the head of the Italian government. "Berlusconi won't win," said Bersani. "He's trying to salvage what he can but I don't intend to run an election campaign on the issue of whether or not to have Berlusconi. "The Italian people have the information they need to decide and they will decide that he loses". Berlusconi's PdL party is trailing a long way behind in third place after being overtaken by comedian Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment Five Star Movement.

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