Opinion split among PD members over Renzi's call for action

Democratic Party torn by 'Berlusconi alliance or election' idea

Opinion split among PD members over Renzi's call for action

Rome, April 4 - Democratic Party (PD) members were divided Thursday over criticism of the course set by leader Pier Luigi Bersani made by heir-apparent Matteo Renzi. Renzi, who is mayor of Florence and seen as a future centre-left leader, 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. Bersani has consistently rejected Berlusconi's calls for the PD to form a grand coalition with the ex-premier's People of Freedom (PdL) party. In reaction, some PD members suggested Renzi was getting ahead of himself with his criticism. Renzi is yet untested nationally and should guard against being reckless, especially at a sensitive time when parliamentarians must focus on electing a new president, said Beppe Fioroni. "An old proverb says, 'those who can, do; those who can not, are critics'," said the former education minister. "No one can blow up, or mess up, or give false readings," at such a critical time, added Fioroni. "Matteo was the standard bearer of renewal...and must understand that the first renewal is to elect the head of state". Italian President Giorgio Napolitano's term ends in a few weeks and elections must be held for the post. Yet PD vice-chairman Ivan Scalfarotto said in a radio interview that Renzi is only speaking the truth. If a government cannot be cobbled together from current parliamentarians, then it's time for a new vote, he said. Renzi said in an interview published Thursday in the Corriere della Sera that the PD "has to decide" on whether to force another vote. "If Berlusconi is the head of an unfit party, then let's ask to go and vote immediately," said Renzi, who lost the PD's last primary to Bersani. "Our country cannot afford to coast," he added. "Either there's an agreement or we vote".

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