Berlusconi's party blasts PD for choosing Prodi

'Opposite of what Italy needs' says PdL

Berlusconi's party blasts PD for choosing Prodi

(see related stories) Rome, April 19 - Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party on Friday blasted the centre-left Democratic Party's decision to propose twice-premier Romano Prodi to be Italy's next president. The head of state represents national unity and usually a figure capable of winning broad cross-party party support is sought for the role. Former European Commission president Prodi, however, is seen as the nemesis of three-time premier Berlusconi after defeating him at the helm of centre-left alliances in elections in 1996 and 2006. "Prodi is a option that divides us. This is the oppositive of what Italy needs," said PdL Senator Maurizio Gasparri. In the first ballot to elect the new head of state on Thursday the PdL backed former Senate Speaker Franco Marini, who had been proposed by the PD. But Marini he failed to prevail after an internal PD revolt. "The PD reached an agreement with us over Marini that it could not honour, or did not want to honour," said Fabrizio Cicchitto, the PdL's former House whip. "It's clear that by choosing Prodi they've caused a rift".

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