Rome

Berlusconi vows 'battle' over next president

Ex-premier expects centre left to nominate new head of state

Berlusconi vows 'battle' over next president

(see related stories) Rome, March 18 - Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi on Monday told MPs for his People of Freedom (PdL) party that he expects the centre left to hand-pick the next Italian president, rather than finding a consensus candidate. He added that the PdL will "battle" against this "in parliament" and "in the streets", sources at Monday's meeting with the MPs said. At the weekend the centre left, which came first in last month's general election but failed to win a majority in the Upper House, managed to get both its candidates elected as Speakers for the House and Senate, Italy's third- and second-highest institutional roles respectively behind the president. Centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani is trying to reach out to Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement to find some sort of arrangement to govern Italy, but he has ruled out cooperating with Berlusconi. The new parliament is set to start electing a new head of state next month. President Giorgio Napolitano's seven-year term ends in May.

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