Renzi spars with Bersani

Florence mayor takes jabs at PD head over 'grand elector' snub

Renzi spars with Bersani

(By Christopher Livesay) Trieste, April 10 - Matteo Renzi, Florence mayor and rising star in the Democratic Party (PD), took a shot at the center-left leadership on Wednesday after not being named among the group to elect Italy's next president. "It would have been a pleasure to represent my region. I was told I could count on the votes, but then some phone calls were made from Rome..." said Renzi, suggesting PD head Pier Luigi Bersani had influenced the outcome. According to Italian law, every region must elect three people who will vote along with MPs for the next Italian president on April 18. Tuscan councilmen from the PD, which is the majority party in the region, voted 12-10 in favor of assembly speaker Alberto Monaci over Renzi to be one of the region's three electors. The PD head was quick to deny having a hand in the decision. "I deny having decided, influenced or even thought about this choice that is strictly reserved to the regional council of Tuscany," said Bersani. Renzi's comments aimed at his party's leader, increasingly a target for the young mayor, were not his only swipes of the day. At a rally in Trieste, Renzi repeated that he hopes Italians hold another general election "as soon as possible" for a new government. "If it were up to me, we would return to elections tomorrow morning," Renzi said. A touted future leader of the PD, Renzi has been highly critical of Bersani since last week when he said the PD leader should swallow his pride and form a government with arch-enemy Silvio Berlusconi, or else agree to a snap election. For over 40 days, Italy has been without a government following inconclusive elections that led to parliamentary gridlock, and the make-up of the future government remains unclear. A PD-led alliance got a majority in the House but not the Senate on February 25, with ex-premier Berlusconi's center-right People of Freedom (PdL) party running them a close second, both with almost 30% of the vote, and comedian Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement coming in 5% behind to hold the balance of power in the hung parliament. While Grillo refuses to talk to the PD or PdL, damning them as equally culpable in an allegedly corrupt and dysfunctional system, Bersani has rebuffed Berlusconi's overtures for a grand coalition between left and right. Renzi, who lost to Bersani in PD primaries but went on to campaign with him ahead of general elections, has complained over the past week of gridlock that the parties - including his own - have been "wasting time" while Italy sinks ever deeper into the economic and social mire. Often compared to Tony Blair, Renzi's moderate political ideas have sometimes endeared him more to the center right than his own center left. The only alternative to new elections, he repeated Wednesday, would be a Bersani-Berlusconi pact reached "as fast as possible". "Every day that is lost is time lost for Italy," he added.

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