Italy’s Democratic Party Gains in Polls as Government Teeters

Italy’s Democratic Party widened its lead over former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Liberty as Prime Minister Mario Monti’s government teeters, increasing the chances of early elections.

The Democratic Party, led by Pier Luigi Bersani, increased its support to 30.3 percent in a poll by SWG Institute from 30 percent in their Nov. 30 survey. Berlusconi’s PDL slipped to 13.8 percent from 14.3 percent, to trail both the PD and the anti-austerity Five Star Movement, which gained to 19.7 percent from 19.5 percent, SWG said.

The poll was released a day after Berlusconi’s PDL said it was shifting from supporting the government to a position of abstention, making it difficult for Monti to finish out a term due to end in May. The PDL is pushing for early elections to coincide with regional voting due in the coming months.

In a second poll today by Demos & Pi published in newspaper La Repubblica, the Democratic Party’s support rose to 37.8 percent, the highest since it was founded in 2007, from 27 percent in September. Berlusconi’s PDL fell to 18.2 percent from 19.8 percent in the previous survey. Grillo’s party was little changed at 15 percent, the poll said.

Neither of the polls indicated how many seats in Parliament those support levels would yield. The current election law makes it difficult for a party or coalition to win a stable majority of both houses.

President Giorgio Napolitano has called on the political parties to negotiate a new election law before he would agree to call a vote. The PDL holding out their support for Monti, makes it more likely that Italians will go to the polls using the old rules.

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