D'Alema calls on PD to unite behind Marini

Centre-left party divided over presidential candidate

D'Alema calls on PD to unite behind Marini

(see related stories) Rome, April 18 - Former centre-left premier Massimo D'Alema on Thursday called on the Democratic Party (PD) to unite behind its candidate to be Italy's next president, ex-Senate speaker Franco Marini. While Marini has won the backing of Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party, the PD itself is deeply divided over the 80-year-old, who is seen by some as representing the tired old guard of Italian politics. Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi, the rising star of the PD, said parliamentarians loyal to him will not vote for Marini in the first ballot to elect President Giorgio Napolitano's successor on Thursday. At a meeting of PD lawmakers on Wednesday, 222 voted in favour of backing Marini, who was proposed by centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani, while 90 voted against and 30 abstained. "The result of a tough debate was convergence around Marini," D'Alema, who was also touted as one of the candidates the PD might propose, said in a statement. "This decision was discussed and approved by our parliamentarians. A serious party must show it is such in the validity of its choices and in its reliability. So it can only act with coherence. "I'm convinced that Marini would be a good president, above all, because of his background as a trade unionists and a politician who has always been close to ordinary people and the world of work".

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