Berlusconi wants grand coalition to bring 'stability'

Ex-premier says if country returns to vote, PdL would win

Berlusconi wants grand coalition to bring 'stability'

Rome, April 5 - Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, who continues to shun a return to voting booths to break Italy's political deadlock, reiterated on his website Friday that a grand coalition with the centre left was needed to bring stability. "A return to the polls by June is not our first choice because we know that the most urgent matter is to pull the country out of the crisis in the shortest time possible. Therefore it is a priority and indeed, indispensable to immediately form a stable, strong government". However, Berlusconi said that if the country did return to the polls that his People of Freedom party (PdL) would prevail since they were "ahead in the latest surveys". "Only if the Democratic Party refuses this solution (of a grand coalition) will we have to turn to early elections. If the country votes, according to the latest polls, we would take the Senate and the House," Berlusconi said. Centre-left Democratic Party (PD) leader Pier Luigi Bersani, who came first in the February 24-25 general election but does not have a majority in the Senate, has repeatedly refused forming a government with arch-enemy Berlusconi, who leads the second-biggest parliamentary coalition. On Friday, Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi who lost to Bersani in the primaries, reiterated that Bersani should swallow his pride and form a government with Berlusconi, or else agree to a snap election. He argued that Berlusconi "trusted" the PD old guard much more than he did the younger PD generation that emerged from the election, "so it would be much easier for them to find an agreement" on a left-right coalition. Support for Renzi continues to grow, according to a SWG opinion poll published Friday, and some political pundits have speculated that Renzi, who is younger and more moderate than Bersani, would have a broader appeal in the general elections if Italy returns to vote. Berlusconi said that he would continue his tour of political rallies around the country, travelling to the southern city of Bari on April 13. "As you all well know, I ask nothing for myself - no institutional role or government position. I only ask to be able to continue to perform the task that was entrusted to me by our constituents - that is to unite the center right and help lift our country out of this crisis that is the most serious we have experienced since the end of WWII," Berlusconi said.

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