Renzi says centre-left must talk to Berlusconi or elections

Florence mayor critical of Bersani's handling of impasse

Renzi says centre-left must talk to Berlusconi or elections

Rome, April 4 - Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi, who is seen as a future centre-left leader, has reiterated his criticism of his party's handling of Italy's post-election political deadlock, saying it should either open talks with Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right alliance or call for snap elections. Pier Luigi Bersani, the leader of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), has rejected Berlusconi's calls for the PD to form a grand coalition with the ex-premier's People of Freedom (PdL) party. This stance has left Bersani, whose alliance came first in February's general election but failed to win a working majority in the Senate, unable to form a government as the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, which holds the balance of power in the Senate, has rejected his attempts to reach out to it. At the weekend President Giorgio Napolitano asked a group of 10 institutional and political figures to try to formulate a government programme capable of winning cross-party support and breaking the deadlock. But there is widespread skepticism about the chances of success of the so-called 'wise men'. "The PD has to decide. If Berlusconi is the head of an unfit party, then let's ask to go and vote immediately," said Renzi, who is expected to challenge to lead the centre left if Italy returns to the polls later this year after losing the last primary to Bersani. "Our country cannot afford to coast," he told Thursday's Corriere della Sera. "Either there's an agreement or we vote. "The prospect of governing with (people like the PdL's former communications minister Maurizio) Gasparri is scary. "It's no coincide that I'm ready for new elections immediately. But if the PD fears the ballot box, it has to talk to those who have the numbers (in parliament)," added Renzi, who was sceptical from the start about Bersani's bid to reach out to the M5S. On Wednesday Renzi, a 38-year-old who has frequently been compared to the young Tony Blair, said Italy was "wasting time" while "the world is asking us to run twice as fast".

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