Rome

M5S select Gabanelli as presidential candidate

Presenter of investigative TV show tops poll

M5S select Gabanelli as presidential candidate

(By Paul Virgo) (see related stories on Grillo) Rome, April 16 - The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement said Tuesday that it wants TV presenter and investigative reporter Milena Gabanelli to be its candidate to be Italy's next president after an online vote by members. "When people think you are up to such a big job, then you can only be honoured because it is highly gratifying," Gabanelli, whose Report show on state broadcaster Rai highlights cases of alleged corruption and waste of public money, told ANSA. "Now I can only say that I'm extremely moved and also overrated," she added, without indicating whether she would accept being the M5S's presidential candidate. Gabanelli came top of an online vote that was staged on Monday and that just under 50,000 M5S members registered before the end of 2012 were eligible to take part in. She prevailed over eight other candidates, including former centre-left premier Romano Prodi, former European commissioner Emma Bonino and Nobel Literature Laureate Dario Fo, who had made it onto a shortlist in a separate vote last week. War-zone doctor Gino Strada, the founder of the Emergency medical aid NGO, came second in Monday's vote, and institutional lawyer Stefano Rodota' was third. "Gabanelli is extraordinary," said M5S leader Beppe Grillo, who also made the shortlist but withdrew his name from it. "I would never have imagined a result like this. It's an extraordinary message - a journalist, a person who fights against the powers that be". Grillo added that if Gabanelli declined to be the M5S's candidate in this week's vote, the movement would keep moving down the list until someone accepted. The members of the two Houses of Italy's parliament and representatives of the nation's regional governments will start voting to select a successor to President Giorgio Napolitano on Thursday. Napolitano's seven-year term ends in the middle of May. Grillo's movement holds the balance of power in parliament after February's inconclusive election and it has refused to enable the established parties to create a new government, saying they have created a corrupt, malfunctioning system. The comedian-turned-politician has accused centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani and centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi of wanting to do "shady deals" after they met last week to discuss the new president. However, Bersani and three-time premier Berlusconi do not appear to be close to agreeing on a consensus candidate to be the next head of state. A two-thirds majority is needed in the first three ballots to elect a new president, after which a simple majority is enough. "We'll have to wait and see who the other parties choose," said Grillo, whose popular blog gave life to the Internet-based M5S in 2009. "I don't know what could happen if we reach the fourth ballot. We'll see some interesting stuff over the next three four days. "In any case, the Web has decided and shown that it has its ethics". Experts say Rodota' could be a candidate that Bersani's centre-left PD would be willing to back. Here is the list of candidates in the order they came in the vote: Gabanelli, Strada, Rodota', institutional lawyer Gustavo Zagrebelsky, Supreme Court Chief Justice Ferdinando Imposimato, Bonino, former Palermo prosecutor Gian Carlo Caselli, Prodi, Fo.

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