Napolitano Names Advisers in Renewed Push for Italy DealAndrew Frye
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano renewed his push to forge a government from the country’s divided parliament by drafting advisers from two of the top three political forces.
Members of the parliamentary coalitions headed by Pier Luigi Bersani and ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi were among the 10 men selected, according to an e-mail sent late yesterday by Napolitano’s office. Civil servants, a former politician, a retired judge and a central banker rounded out the two lists. Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement, the third-largest group, had no lawmakers included.
The effort by Napolitano, 87, follows a week of talks among parliamentary leaders that failed to produce a government. Clashes that arose during the election campaign in January and February made it difficult for Bersani and Berlusconi to come to terms after the vote. Napolitano, in the final two months of his seven-year term, is counting on the lawmakers loyal to Bersani and Berlusconi to find common ground.
“What Napolitano is trying to force is a kind of road map toward a coalition government,” said Giovanni Orsina, a history professor at Luiss Guido Carli University in Rome. “These names all together tell me dialogue.”
Compromise between the top two groups may be easier after Bersani, who refused to share a cabinet with Berlusconi, took a step back on March 28 and relinquished control of negotiations. Berlusconi, a 76-year-old billionaire, has said he is open to governing with Bersani’s Democratic Party. Five Star, which campaigned for a renewal in Italian politics, has rejected forming a government in tandem with another party.
Gaetano Quagliariello, a senator in Berlusconi’s People of Liberty party, and Luciano Violante, an ex-lawmaker with a forerunner of the Democratic Party, are on the team set to explore institutional changes. Democratic Party Senator Filippo Bubbico and Giancarlo Giorgetti, a representative with the Northern League, a Berlusconi ally, are among six members of the team focusing on economic, social and European issues.
The work of the teams “may become in various forms the base for compromise among the various political forces,” Napolitano said at the presidential palace in Rome before the members were announced. “It could become useful material also for the tasks that will be required of the new president.”
Napolitano reiterated that he will serve until his mandate ends on May 15, denying reports that he was considering a resignation to speed the entry of his successor into the talks. Presidents in the final stages of their mandates aren’t permitted to dissolve parliament and call new elections, an option that would be available to the next incumbent.
Grillo, an ex-comic who characterized his party’s mission as the French Revolution without the guillotine, criticized Napolitano’s appointment of advisers in a blog posting today.
Italy “doesn’t need ‘caretakers of democracy,’ but rather to make its parliament function better and quickly,” Grillo said. “The country doesn’t need mysterious negotiators or facilitators of the caliber of Violante, the grand master of backroom deals, to cite just one, to act as a group of wise men.”
Violante, a former speaker of the lower house of parliament, didn’t respond to a request via his website for comment.
Italy needs a government with a majority in parliament to take steps such as passing economic stimulus measures and to guard against bond-market speculation in the wake of the financial crisis in Cyprus. Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, who remains in office until a new government is installed, can’t count on a majority in parliament and has said he is eager for his mandate to expire.
Italy is stuck in its fourth recession since 2001, and each of the top three political forces has proposed tax cuts aimed at spurring growth. Investors, who buy more than 30 billion euros ($38 billion) of bonds each month to finance Italy’s debt, are counting on a deal that will ensure a government strong enough to pass measures to boost the economy and manage the budget.
Quagliariello and Violante are joined on the institutional-change team by Valerio Onida, a former president of Italy’s Constitutional Court, and Mario Mauro, a senator in Monti’s Civic Choice party who previously belonged to Berlusconi’s group.
The economic and social team is completed by European Affairs Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi, Competition Commissioner Giovanni Pitruzzella, Bank of Italy Deputy Director General Salvatore Rossi and Enrico Giovannini, chairman of the national statistics office Istat.