Rome

Centre and centre left polarize in Italian election

Bersani and Casini widen the distance between them

Centre and centre left polarize in Italian election

Rome, December 31 - Political leaders of Italy's centre left and reformed centre coalitions threw down the gauntlet over the weekend, defining each other as rivals seeking a parliament majority in elections on February 24, and polarizing two forces that had supported Premier Mario Monti's technical government over the course of its one-year rule. "To not set the goal of (winning a) majority means accepting subordination," leader of the centrist UDC party Pier Ferdinando Casini told the newspaper Il Messaggero in an interview published on Monday. "We will not be subordinate to the (centre-left) PD," Casini added, "We will not be a centre of convenience." Mario Monti's policy agenda forms the centrepiece of the reformed centrist coalition Casini represents, and serves as a platform for rallying political support around a political faction that, until now, has drawn meagre voter interest. Meanwhile, the leader of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) Luigi Bersani openly challenged Mario Monti's agenda on Sunday, a barb intended for Casini, with whom Bersani's differences lately have mounted. The PD was the largest opposition party before Monti took over from Silvio Berlusconi in November 2011 and has been favored to win the largest number of seats in the upcoming elections given a dramatic erosion of support for the centre right. "Now it is our turn to indicate the way. It is a responsibility that we must take," Bersani said on Sunday in the northern Italian city of Piacenza, where he is home celebrating the holidays. "I do not make controversies," Bersani continued, "I am very respectful. I have an excellent rapport with Monti. Now he has chosen to be a political player and so I pose political questions. When one goes before the voters, clarity is needed." Monti is promoting a political agenda in the current election campaign, and has invited any party to embrace it. Monti also made clear that he is open to becoming premier once more should the parties supporting his agenda win an elected majority.

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