Pier Luigi Bersani, the notional winner of Italy’s general elections last month, told his party’s senior leaders that he would try to form a government even though his center-left coalition didn’t have a Senate majority. Any alliance with Silvio Berlusconi, longtime leader of the center-right, was “not practicable,” while some form of dialogue with the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement might be, Mr. Bersani said as he opened a day-long meeting of his Democratic Party’s top officials Wednesday. Mr. Bersani, whose center-left coalition narrowly won the most votes in an election that unexpectedly showed a near tie between three rival groups, is under pressure to outline how he will try to form a coalition able to pass a confidence vote in both parliamentary chambers. Political instability in Italy has raised concerns that the euro area’s policy approach to its sovereign debt crisis is failing. Italy’s election was a “thermometer” of long-simmering tensions, Mr. Bersani said, noting that euro-skepticism is growing even in Germany.
Favored to win power outright or with the support of outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti’s new centrist party, Mr. Bersani’s center-left alliance performed far below forecasts, losing seven regions in the Senate vote. Mr. Monti also did less well than expected, and in the end won only one million more votes than one of his allies, the Catholic UDC party, that used to win on its own, Mr. Bersani noted.
But he signaled he was bent on trying to form a government to address a core set of issues, including changing a new property tax, helping Italians adversely affected by new pension rules, making it easier for children of immigrants born in Italy to become citizens, reducing the cost of politics and pursuing the kind of electoral reform his Democratic Party has long desired.
“We’re ready to open discussions with others on these points,” Mr. Bersani said.
He won’t go “courting” Beppe Grillo’s Five-Star Movement, which won more than a quarter of all votes on a broad protest platform, but it’s critical to understand the concerns of its disgruntled supporters, Mr. Bersani said.