Bersani Rejected by Grillo Party Lawmakers After Webcast

Italian Democratic Party head Pier Luigi Bersani was rejected by leaders of Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement after their talks aimed at forming a governing coalition were broadcast live on the Internet.

“The decision for the Senate was to vote ‘no’ to a Democratic Party confidence vote for a government led by Bersani,” Vito Crimi, head of Five Star’s contingent in the upper house, told reporters after leaving the negotiating table.

Italian bond yields surged as the meeting left Bersani with no clear path to assemble a majority in the Senate. The refusal by Five Star means Bersani, a former communist and ex-industry minister, will probably have to strike an alliance with former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi by tomorrow or renounce his hopes of forming a government.

“Believe me, only an insane person would want to govern at this moment,” Bersani, seated across the table from Crimi, said in the webcast. “Let’s get this straight: I am ready to take on an enormous responsibility and I’d ask everyone to take a small part of it, period.”

Bersani, 61, was drawn into the webcast by Five Star, which has campaigned for greater transparency in government. Crimi told Bersani during the meeting, which took place in Rome’s Chamber of Deputies, that his voters don’t want the party to back a confidence vote. Five Star is prepared to evaluate laws on a case-by-case basis, Crimi said.

‘Dual Track’

Italian 10-year bond yields rose 17 basis points to 4.74 percent at 12:49 p.m. in Rome, widening the difference between yields on similar-maturity German bunds 24 basis points to 3.46 percentage points. Spanish 10-year bond yields advanced 13 basis points to 5.07 percent.

Italy is under pressure to install a government capable of confronting the country’s recession and preventing fallout from the financial crisis in fellow euro-area member Cyprus. Bersani has proposed what he calls a “dual track” that could allow him to form a Cabinet from within his party while requiring him to seek broader consensus for issues such as reforms.

Bersani reiterated that plan today to Crimi and Roberta Lombardi, Five Star’s head in the Chamber, as he appealed for their support. In so doing, Bersani excluded the possibility of sharing his Cabinet with Berlusconi’s party.

Grand Coalition

“There’s an expectation for a grand coalition, and I have always said no way,” Bersani said in the webcast. “It would be like putting a politicized lid on a pressure cooker that needs change. Our political forces are too far apart on some relevant issues, and we’d end up paralyzing each other.”

Bersani, given a mandate on March 22 to seek support to form a government, will meet with President Giorgio Napolitano tomorrow to discuss the results of his talks with rival parties. Bersani met yesterday with the political deputies of Berlusconi, a billionaire and three-time former premier.

The Feb. 24-25 election gave Bersani a majority in Italy’s lower house of parliament, while leaving the Senate divided into three blocks. Bersani has the biggest force in the upper house, with Berlusconi second and Five Star third. Angelino Alfano, the general secretary of Berlusconi’s People of Liberty Party, said yesterday after meeting Bersani that the talks were approached “with a constructive spirit” and differences persist.

“The positions remain very distant,” Alfano said. “If they remain distant this way over the next 48 hours, we will reiterate the only way is to go to elections.”

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.