Epifani likely to be Democratic Party's caretaker leader

Centre-left group without chief after Bersani's resignation

Epifani likely to be Democratic Party's caretaker leader

Rome, May 10 - Former trade unionist Guglielmo Epifani is likely to be made the caretaker leader of the Democratic Party (PD) at a national assembly on Saturday, sources within the division-hit centre-left party said Friday. The PD has been without a leader since Pier Luigi Bersani quit as secretary last month after internal revolts sank two candidates he had proposed to be Italian president. The PD came first in February's general election but failed to win a working majority in the Senate after Bersani conducted a colourless campaign. After Bersani stepped down, the party reluctantly entered into a pact with its long-standing foe, ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party. This enabled Bersani's former deputy, Premier Enrico Letta, to form an unprecedented left-right government and end two months of deadlock. Epifani, 63, is the former head of Italy's largest trade union confederation, the left-wing CGIL. The sources said an agreement was emerging among the various factions within the PD that Epifani would be the man best equipped to keep the party united until a permanent leader is elected at a congress later this year. He is expected to be officially named a candidate to lead the party later on Friday.

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