Bersani says center left not shopping for lawmakers

PD wants to 'usher in change'

Bersani says center left not shopping for lawmakers

Rome, March 11- Democratic Left (PD) leader Pier Luigi Bersani on Monday denied any back-door maneuvers to gain the support of lawmakers outside his coalition. The center left bloc Bersani leads came first at national elections February 24-25 but failed to win a working majority in the Senate because of a huge protest vote for comedian Beppe Grillo's 5-Star Movement (M5S), which became the single biggest party in the House. "There are no ongoing negotiations, we want to bring out into the open an idea: starting a legislature that will lead to change", Bersani told a gathering of new Democratic Left MPs at Rome's Capranica theater. "Don't let it be said, not even within our fold, that we are on the lookout for deputies, senators". Bersani said PD voters, and not just Grillo's electorate, were asking for "a great change". "We still don't understand if the 5-Star Movement has turned towards institutions to make them a sounding board of other places or to transform those institutions", the PD leader said. The future House whip for Grillo's anti-establishment movement said on Monday that any of its lawmakers who vote confidence in a government led by Bersani's centre-left alliance will be expelled. Bersani who has framed an eight-point platform for a "government of change" hoping to lure enough M5S Senators to secure a confidence vote, called on Grillo last week to start facing up to the responsibilities his massive support entails. Grillo's M5S unexpectedly won 104 seats in the House and 58 in the Senate. Addressing PD lawmakers on Monday, Bersani said attempting to form a minority government would be like entering "a narrow door" and full of obstacles. "We are not in the condition to guarantee on our own a government in this country", he also said. "We have the difficult responsibility of being the first without being able to be the only ones", the PD leader said in his speech. He also said when discussing profiles of candidates for key institutional roles that there would be no "trade-off of seats". Bersani announced that the PD will name two "small delegations", one in the House and one in the Senate, to start talks with other parliamentary groups ahead of the election of the presidents of the House and Senate scheduled on Friday. The newly elected parliament will meet for the first time on March 15 and is scheduled to first elect the presidents of House and Senate, a vote which usually takes place a day after its first session . By March 18 lawmakers must state their group membership and parliamentary groups will subsequently vote their whips on March 20. On March 21 President Giorgio Napolitano, whose seven-year mandate expires on May 15, is expected to start consultations to form the new government. It is up to Napolitano to decide which political leader to give the job of trying to form a new government and then how to proceed if this is not possible. He is expected to first turn to Bersani. A month before Napolitano's mandate expires, a joint session of parliament will be scheduled to elect his successor. The vote could be held at the beginning of May to enable regional councilors to vote the grand electors that will represent them in the vote. The grand electors are 1.007: 615 deputies, 319 senators and 58 regional delegates.

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