Rome

Renzi denies trying to put heat on Letta's government

Controversy over motion presented by Florence mayor's ally

Renzi denies trying to put heat on Letta's government

Rome, May 30 - Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi on Thursday denied trying to put the heat on Premier Enrico Letta's government after a MP considered loyal to him presented a motion in parliament that would have caused turmoil if it had passed. Renzi, a telegenic 38-year-old who has been compared to the young Tony Blair, is the rising star of the Democratic Party (PD) and came second to then party chief Pier Luigi Bersani last year in the primary to select the centre-left's premier candidate for February's general election. But his share of the limelight has diminished since another young PD man, Enrico Letta, was sworn in as premier in April after being chosen by President Giorgio Napolitano to head an unprecedented left-right administration and end two months of political deadlock after the inconclusive vote. The decision by PD MP Roberto Giachetti, who is seen as close to Renzi, to present a motion on Wednesday calling for the much criticised current election law to be scrapped and replaced by its predecessor was seen by some as an act of mischief by the Florence mayor's camp. Election reform is a delicate issue for Letta's government as the PD and the other main coalition party, ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party, are deeply divided over it, even though they both agree on the need to change the system that failed to create a clear winner in February's election. The PdL is staunchly opposed to returning to the former election law and if Giachetti's motion had passed, Berlusconi's party may have reacted by withdrawing its support from Letta's government and sinking it. The motion was soundly defeated. Renzi said he was not trying to cause trouble for the government or the PD, which has been badly hit by internal rifts after failing to win February's election despite having a massive lead in the polls two months before. But he said he was concerned that the government would dither on key reforms, including changes to the election system, widely considered necessary to make Italy easier to govern. "I'm not rushing the government. It's not true that I want to make the (life of the) government speed up," Renzi said at the Rome presentation of a book he has written. "But the government and parliament function if they pass reforms, not if they just live to get by. "None of us are interested in games or setting institutional traps in parliament or for the government. "If the ruling majority passes reforms and the political world and society start speaking the same language again, we'll be happy. Otherwise, an opportunity will have been lost".

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