Rome

SEL to oppose left-right govt

'Even with Renzi at the helm' says Vendola

SEL to oppose left-right govt

Rome, April 23 - The key ally of the riven centre-left Democratic Party (PD), Left Ecology and Freedom (SEL), repeated Tuesday it would join the opposition if the PD teamed up with centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party in a left-right administration to break Italy's two-month post-election stalemate. Puglia Governor Nichi Vendola, the leader of SEL, said it would not back an executive "that included the Berlusconi bloc" as he exited talks with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano. He said the position also applied to a potential government led by Florence Mayor and PD rising star Matteo Renzi, widely touted as a possible candidate for premier. The PD's coalition just beat the PdL's alliance in the February elections but failed to gain a Senate majority, leading to a deadlock as the third bloc, anti-establishment comedian Beppe Grillo's 5-Star Movement, refused to work with either. PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani, after failing to get M5S support, adamantly ruled out a deal with the PdL because of irreconcilable policy differences. But Napolitano, re-elected Saturday and sworn in Monday after the PD came close to splitting when the failure of two of Bersani's candidates exposed deep divisions and prompted the PD leader to tender his resignation, is expected to try to form a national-unity government of institutional figures and PD and PdL politicians to tackle deep economic and social problems. It is expected to have a limited reform agenda including changing an unpopular electoral law, cutting political costs, turning the Senate into a regional body, and trying to create jobs and lift Italy out of its worst recession in 20 years. The PD's left wing may refuse to back this government amid strong grassroots anger at leadership bungling and wider public disaffection with a discredited political class. It may split off to join SEL in opposition, the Italian media say. Vendola said Monday: "I will go into opposition with Italy, with that country that vomits when politics is incapable of emerging from its rituals, from its obscene liturgies". Vendola said the PD should not agree to Napolitano's urging to team up with Berlusconi, although he reiterated his personal affection for the 87-year-old president.

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