Berlusconi says new govt should focus on economy
PdL leader tells colleagues party has 3-point lead over rival PD18 March, 17:44
According to people who attended a meeting of the party's members to elect a head of caucus in the Senate, Berlusconi reportedly said: "What is needed is an economic recovery and help to companies." Aside from brushing off talk of conflicts of interest, the PdL leader also said the government needed to focus on reforming taxes, justice and the costs of politics in Italy and said that the PdL was now three points ahead of the rival, left-leaning Democrat Party (PD), headed by Pier Luigi Bersani.
Meanwhile, touching on the complex question of electing a new head of state to succeed current president, Giorgio Napolitano - whose seven-year terms ends this month - Berlusconi repeated calls for the next president to be directly elected.
Currently the head of state is elected by the Parliament.
However the inconclusive results of February's national elections means agreement on selecting a successor to Napolitano will likely be complicated.
Concerned that a head of state chosen by the newly-elected parliament - where the PD and comedian Beppe Grillo's 5-Star Movement dominate - would likely be in contrast to his PdL movement, Berlusconi reportedly said that should the left also take the presidency, "we will react in the piazzas and in the parliament." "The left hates us. Communists are always the same and they don't understand that the only (possible) government for the country is with us," Berlusconi reportedly said.