Bersani Pairs Lobbyist With Ally Who Invokes Hell for Rich

Pier Luigi Bersani, the former communist and frontrunner for the Italian premiership, is expanding his constituency as he assembles a parliamentary list that he hopes will win him next month’s election.

Bersani added Giampaolo Galli, a former director general of business lobby Confindustria, and McKinsey & Co. executive Yoram Gutgeld to his list. Bersani also reinforced his ties to organized labor by tapping Guglielmo Epifani, ex-head of Italy’s biggest union, CGIL.

The additions of Galli and Gutgeld may reassure investors and conservative voters that Bersani would maintain budget rigor and refrain from punitive taxes on the wealthy. One of his allies, Puglia Governor Nichi Vendola, made headlines this week answering a question about Gerard Depardieu, the actor who got a Russian passport to escape taxes in France, by saying “the super-rich should to go to the devil.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin “resembles the devil, so Depardieu went in the right direction,” Vendola, whose support helped Bersani overcome a primary challenge, said Jan. 7 on state broadcaster RAI 1’s Unomattina program. “I think a very elevated tax rate for the super-rich won’t change their lifestyles.”

Bersani, 61, is seeking to turn his lead in opinion polls into a reliable parliamentary majority. In a country where left-leaning politicians are labeled communists by adversaries, Bersani is seeking to demonstrate his credibility with markets and avoid alienating his base.

Bersani’s Seat

Galli will run for a seat in the lower house of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, in Lombardy, where he is second on the Democratic Party ticket to Bersani himself. Third is Barbara Pollastrini, a career politician. Gutgeld, a specialist in retail and fashion as a director at McKinsey in Milan, is seeking a Chamber seat from the central region of Abruzzo, where he is fifth on the list.

“Bersani is trying to cover his right flank to some extent,” said Peter Ceretti, an analyst at Eurasia Group in New York. “Vendola is somebody who says hyperbolic things on a regular basis. It’s election posturing. He has to play the role of the left wing, or left flank.”

Gutgeld is on leave from McKinsey and will resign if elected, said Yolande Daeninck, the company’s spokeswoman. Gutgeld’s views during the campaign are his own, Daeninck said.

The Democratic Party has the support of about 34 percent of voters and leads a coalition which, including Vendola’s Left, Ecology and Liberty party, polls at 40 percent, according to a Tecne survey published on Jan. 9. The next biggest coalition, led by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, had about 24 percent, according to the poll. Caretaker Prime Minister Mario Monti and his allies polled at 15 percent.

Bersani’s list was posted on the Democratic Party’s website on Jan. 8.

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