Speakerships votes flop as Italian deadlock continues

Bersani buys time to negotiate with blank ballots

Speakerships votes flop as Italian deadlock continues

Rome, March 15 - Votes for speakers in both the Senate and House in Italy were inconclusive Friday as the center-left Democratic Party (PD) led a drive to submit blank ballots in the hope of buying more time for negotiations. In the Senate, 246 senators out of 315 did not support candidates, while 459 out of 630 in the House did the same, forcing new rounds of voting. Pier Luigi Bersani, the head of the PD, said his party would submit blank votes in order to have more time to reach common ground with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) of comedian Beppe Grillo, whose stunning performance in February elections wrested enough support from the center left in the Senate to create gridlock in the first session of parliament Friday. The center-right People of Freedom (PdL) party of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi also performed surprisingly well in elections, and has said it too would submit blank ballots for speakers. Grillo, whose euro-skeptic, anti-tax and largely populist platform has vaulted his party to the top of current opinion polls, has said he wants to "open the parliament like a can of tuna".

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