Bersani seeks Grillo ‘deal’

Pier Luigi Bersani has told his centre-left Democratic Party that a minority government may be possible.  (Photo by Elisabetta A. Villa/Getty Images)

Pier Luigi Bersani has told his centre-left Democratic Party that a minority government may be possible. (Photo by Elisabetta A. Villa/Getty Images)

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Italian centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani, under fire for falling short in last week’s election, is seeking to rally his party behind a plan to form a minority government backed by populist leader Beppe Grillo.

Bersani, whose coalition threw away a 10-point lead in the opinion polls before the February 24-25 vote, won control of the lower house but let slip a workable parliamentary majority by failing to win the Senate.

The result has left no group able to form a government on its own and Italy facing weeks of uncertainty. A new election could be called within months if no accord can be reached between the divided parties.

In an address to officials of his Democratic Party in Rome on Wednesday, Bersani, a 61-year-old former industry minister, acknowledged that the result was a defeat but said the left was the only political force capable of forming a government.

“We are ready, if called on, to propose a government of change based on a core programme,” he said. “Its purpose will be to open the way forward for parliament.”

He ruled out any agreement with centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi, whose scandal-tainted government fell at the height of the euro zone debt crisis in 2011, saying a deal would be neither “credible nor feasible”.

Behind his refusal to ally with Berlusconi lies an uncertain calculation which leaves Bersani dependent on the unpredictable Grillo, whose rebel 5-Star Movement was the big winner in the election with more than 25 per cent of the vote.

Bersani said it was up to the ex-comic, who has ruled out both formal alliances and backing for any government in a confidence vote, to show whether he was prepared to act responsibly.

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