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With Renzi gaining, Berlusconi reconsiders running

String of scandals shakes up election forecasts

05 October, 18:23
With Renzi gaining, Berlusconi reconsiders running

(ANSA) - Milan, October 5 - New Data Friday showed Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi stood a good chance to represent the center-left Democratic Party in spring elections, while former premier Silvio Berlusconi looked to be debating whether or not to run.

"He's reflecting," said Lombardy Governor Roberto Formigoni, a member of the media magnate's People of Freedom (PdL) party and close confidant.

Formigoni added that Berlusconi was even considering leaving the option open to someone outside his party, which has recently been hit by a series of scandals, culminating in the arrest Tuesday of Lazio caucus leader Franco Fiorito for alleged embezzlement.

"(Berlusconi) looked intent to analyze every possible scenario, ready to take a step back if it meant supporting a group of moderates with a different personality from his and the PdL's," said Formigoni.

"He'll decide based on what's good for the country".

Polls currently give the opposition Democratic Party (PD) a clear lead over the centre-right PdL with comedian Beppe Grillo's Five Star protest movement third.

The mayor of Florence, a rising star in the PD, could be the center-left's candidate for premier in a forthcoming parliamentary vote if the turnout at primary elections is high, according to the results of a survey by the polling and social research institute SWG released on Friday.

Renzi, 37, is running against PD secretary Pier Luigi Bersani, a veteran politician, and Nichi Vendola, leader of the left-wing Left Ecology Freedom (SEL) party and governor of the southern Puglia region.

With a turnout of at least four million people Renzi would win 29% of the vote against Bersani's 26%, according to SWG.

In the event of a turnout of 2.6 million or 3.3 million people, however, Bersani would win with 37% and 33% respectively against Renzi's 29%.

The two candidates and their respective supporters have so far been unable to agree on the rules for the primary elections and no date has been set for the poll.

The PD is due to address both issues at its national assembly on Saturday.

The next general election is scheduled by May when Premier Mario Monti, an unelected technocrat, ends his term.

Monti was appointed Premier in November amid rising turmoil in the eurocrisis that forced Berlusconi to step down. Over the past 11 months his party, one of three main groups in parliament that support Monti's premiership, has criticized the government for its tough austerity measures, and PdL leaders have repeatedly said that Berlusconi would run again. But the center-right party's tone has softened as of late, with some members of the party calling for an overhaul of the party structure and image. "For the future I envision a party that's responsible, not demogogic and populist," said Maurizio Lupi, deputy speaker of the House, from the PdL, who proposed changing the name of the party to the Italian Center-Right. "I like it a lot. We'll see if it sticks".