Rome

PD vows blank ballots in speaker elections

M5S presents candidates without compromise

PD vows blank ballots in speaker elections

Rome, March 14 - Comedian Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) reiterated on Thursday it would not make a deal with the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) on parliamentary speakers to be voted in on Friday. PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani insisted he was still open to talks and called on his deputies to cast blank ballots on Friday. "This decision reflects the will of the PD to try in every possible way and at every possible turn to find a more shared solution," said Luigi Zanda, PD deputy head and mediator. Thursday evening Bersani gathered with his deputies behind closed doors as tensions and divisions within the PD are reported to be rising, with supporters of Bersani rival Matteo Renzi agitating on the one hand, while others disagree with the line of holding out for an alliance with M5S at any cost. Supporters of ex-premier Mario Monti, led by Linda Lanzillotta, are for creating a different, temporary coalition - even with the Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party - with a brief, limited mandate to pass electoral reform and slash the number of parliamentarians. Meanwhile the M5S is hoping for defections toward M5S speaker candidates, presented late Thursday, without having made any commitments toward the formation of a shared government. The M5S presented candidates for Senate and Chamber speakers - Luis Alberto Orellana and Roberto Fico, respectively - after saying it would vote for them "without outside influence". "A jump into the dark is better than an intellectually assisted suicide," Beppe Grillo tweeted late Thursday, making reference to an article hosted on his blog that invites the M5S to not "listen to the sirens" of the Democratic Party. "By now we are at war and if we die, we will do so on the battle fed of the next elections," Grillo added.

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