Rome

Italy's Bersani says won't drop leftwingers for Monti

But outgoing premier says broad coalitions needed for reform

Italy's Bersani says won't drop leftwingers for Monti

(see related story) Rome, January 24 - Centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani on Thursday dismissed the possibility that he might drop his alliance with the leftwing SEL party and form a coalition with outgoing Premier Mario Monti if he fails to win a working majority in parliament at next month's elections. Bersani's alliance is in front in the opinion polls with over a third of Italians expected to vote for it, but ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right coalition has been gaining ground in recent weeks. It is possible that Bersani, the chief of the main centre-left Democratic Party, will win but not have enough votes in the Senate to govern effectively. This has led to speculation that Bersani could make a post-election pact with Monti, who took the helm of an emergency technocrat government in November 2011 and is standing for office on a reform platform backed by several centrist parties. But the SEL was fiercely opposed to Monti's unelected government, unlike the PD which backed it, and both SEL leader Nichi Vendola and the outgoing premier have said they would not be in the same government together. So Bersani moved to deflate speculation that SEL might be sacrificed. "This possibility does not exist," Bersani said when asked about the hypothesis he could replace Vendola, who is also the governor of Puglia, with Monti. This week Monti blasted Bersani for thinking he could form a government capable of tackling Italy's economic challenges with Vendola, saying the leftwinger was reluctant to accept change. But Monti, whose alliance was third in polls released this week, hinted he was open to making ties with the PD on Thursday. The former European commissioner said at the World Economic Forum in Davos that "the most difficult reforms that will have to be undertaken will require broad coalitions". He suggested he would be less happy to work with Berlusconi's alliance, pointing out that the centre-right presented resistance to anti-corruption legislation proposed by his government.

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