Italy center-left rejects Berlusconi coalition
By Stephen Jewkes ,ReutersMILAN -- Italian center-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani on Friday ruled out forming a coalition with Silvio Berlusconi to solve an intractable crisis after this week's inconclusive election.
March 2, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
In an interview with the daily La Repubblica, Bersani, whose group holds a majority in the lower house but not in the Senate, said center-right leader Berlusconi had “no concept of responsibility beyond his own interests.”
“I want to spell it out clearly: the idea of a grand coalition does not exist and will never exist,” he said.
His remark shuts off one of the two apparent options for a new government by closing the door on a formal alliance between the two biggest blocs in parliament, which both supported the technocrat government of outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti.
Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, which rode a huge protest vote to become Italy's third force, has ruled out giving a vote of confidence to another party but says it may back individual pieces of legislation.
Without majority support in both houses of parliament, a government cannot pass legislation or win a vote of confidence.
Bersani told La Repubblica he would present a program based around a limited number of points, many of which are in line with Grillo's platform, and seek the support of parliament.
He said he would seek to ease the austerity programs imposed by Monti with the approval of the European Union, saying he had consulted French Socialist President Francois Hollande.
He added: “Austerity on its own leads to disaster.”
“At the moment, there is another priority, which is jobs.”
Data released on Friday showed Italy unemployment at its highest in at least 20 years at 11.7 percent, with the youth rate at nearly 39 percent.