di Davide Marchetta
Rome, February 26 - Center-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani said Tuesday that election results in Italy showed Italians rejected "politics as usual". After failing to win a majority in the Senate, Bersani said Italians had refused to accept "inefficient institutions and politics that seem to have lost moral credibility". His assessment came at a press conference where he conceded that his coalition did not win the general election despite topping the popular vote in both houses. "It's clear that if you can't ensure governability you can't say you've won," he said, adding that his party had to take stock with "humility" of leaving a hung parliament. "For us it is a matter of taking stock, with simplicity, awareness and humility of the results of the elections, repeating our willingness to be useful to the country," Bersani said. "These elections have assigned us a greater responsibility: we are the majority coalition in the Chamber (lower house) and the largest coalition in the Senate". He went on to reject centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi's offer to form a grand coalition after elections produced a hung parliament. Bersani rebuffed what he called "diplomatic dances" and said the centre right "should have a rest". But when asked about working with members of Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement (M5S), which made stunning advances at the polls, Bersani was more open while remaining critical of its anti-establishment platform. "Up until now their message has been 'everyone out'. But now they're in (government) as well. Either they get out as well, or they say what they want to do for this country of theirs and their children," said Bersani. "I am waiting for the parliament to convene, later there will be the conditions to meet". The center-left leader added that the next House Speaker should come from Grillo's Five Star Movement (M5S) after it became the biggest party in the lower house. The huge protest vote that swept M5S to top spot should be recognised "according to the great democratic models," Bersani said. But Bersani was critical of the Movement's self-proclaimed ideology that its representatives will sit in parliament and lend support to only those policies that they approve. The PD leader said that government works on the basis of parliamentary support overall, not on an issue-by-issue basis: "This is our constitution. Whoever comes into parliament has to deal with our constitution and take responsibility". Despite his coalition's own disappointing performance after a big lead in the polls, Bersani rejected suggestions he should resign. "I won't abandon ship," he said, adding that "the wheel must turn" at a party congress later this year.