Rome

Bersani laughs off possible candidacy for president

Parties yet to put forward names for Napolitano's successor

Bersani laughs off possible candidacy for president

Rome, April 11 - Besieged Democratic Party (PD) leader Pier Luigi Bersani on Thursday laughed off media reports that he was in the running to become the next president of the republic after the seven-year mandate of Giorgio Napolitano expires in May. "The only hills I have in mind are those in the province of Piacenza," said Bersani in reference to his native Emilia Romagna. The seat of the president of the republic on the Quirinale hill in Rome is commonly referred to simply as 'Il Colle', meaning 'The Hill'. Political parties are locked in negotiations over who should replace Napolitano ahead of a joint parliamentary session to elect a successor starting from April 18. Names to be touted on left and right include former centre-left premier Romani Prodi, Berlusconi aide Gianni Letta and Radical Party heavyweight Emma Bonino, but no consensus candidates have yet to emerge. Some would like to see Napolitano serve a second term in office but the incumbent president has repeatedly ruled out this possibility.

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