Rome

Berlusconi might back centre-left president if deal on govt

Ex-premier ready 'to discuss' possibility of PD head of state

Berlusconi might back centre-left president if deal on govt

Rome, April 12 - Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi has said he might be willing to consider backing a candidate from the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) if it drops its refusal to form a broad government coalition with his People of Freedom (PdL) party. Italy has been in a state of political deadlock since February's inconclusive general election because centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani has rejected the PdL's calls for it to form a grand coalition. Bersani, whose alliance finished ahead of Berlusconi's coalition in the vote but did not win a working majority in the Senate, failed in a bid to win support from the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) that holds the balance of power in parliament. As well as working out a way to break the impasse, the parties must also choose a successor to President Giorgio Napolitano, whose seven-year term ends next month. "We are certainly ready to discuss it," Berlusconi said in an interview published in Friday's edition of Rome-based daily La Repubblica when asked about the possibility of a PD member being the next president. "But when we spoke to the (PD) secretary (Bersani this week), we did not name any names. "But if we agree on a road for the Quirinale (presidential palace), on the other hand we also have to find a agreement for a broad coalition executive with ministers chosen together. Otherwise nothing". Bersani has repeated said he is willing to talk to the PdL and the other parties to try to reach a consensus candidate to be Napolitano's successor, while stressing the negotiations should remain separate from the issue of forming a new executive. Berlusconi added that he would not seek an "amnesty" that would free him from legal problems that include a four-year prison term he is appealing for fraud at his media empire and a trial into allegations he paid for sex with an underage prostitute. He said he did not need any such measure as he was confident of acquittal on all counts even if the cases reach the supreme court.

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