Parliament opens amid political deadlock

No hope of Speaker agreement in sight

Parliament opens amid political deadlock

Rome, March 15 - The 17th legislature of the Italian Republic opened Friday amid political deadlock as Italy's three biggest parties failed to agree on candidates for Speakers or anything else. Both the Chamber and the Senate are called on to elect a Speaker during their first session. The impasse is the result of the hung parliament resulting from February's general elections, which gave the centre-left coalition led by Democratic Party (PD) secretary Pier Luigi Bersani a clear majority in the lower house but no party or grouping a working majority in the equally powerful Senate. Since then PD representatives have been trying to forge an agreement with the anti-establishment and populist 5-Star Movement (M5S) of comedian Beppe Grillo, which took a total of 162 seats in parliament, but so far talks have been inconclusive. The centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, which came second to the centre left, said Friday its elected representatives would cast blank ballots in the Speaker elections. On Thursday Bersani had said members of his party would do the same. M5S will vote for its two candidates for Senate and Chamber Speakers, respectively Luis Alberto Orellana and Roberto Fico, ''without outside influence''.

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