Rome

Bersani calls on PD to rediscover unity, hails Prodi

Former premier 'gives value to alliance, talks to country'

Bersani calls on PD to rediscover unity, hails Prodi

(see related stories) Rome, April 19 - Centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani on Friday called on the Democratic Party (PD) to rediscover its unity after voting unanimously to make twice premier Romano Prodi its candidate to be president. The party's first candidate to be the next head of state, former Senate Speaker Franco Marini, failed to win the two-thirds majority needed in the first ballot on Thursday after a internal PD rebellion. Many saw 80-year-old Marini, a member of the Catholic wing of the party, to be representative of Italy's discredited old political class. Others in the party were unhappy at the "method" used to select Marini. Bersani consulted centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi before proposing him and some suggested there had been a "shady deal" which saw the ex-premier's People of Freedom (PdL) backing Marini. "Now we have to regain the profile, unity and autonomy of our party and our coalition," Bersani told a meeting of the PD Upper and Lower House lawmakers and regional representatives who are taking part in the election of the next head of state. Bersani also hailed former European Commission President Prodi, who is seen as the nemesis of three-time premier Berlusconi after defeating him in Italian general elections in 1996 and 2006. "Prodi gives value to our coalition and he speaks to our nation," said Bersani.

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