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Italy House MPs give Bersani standing ovation during debate

Former PD chief makes first House appearance since brain surgery

25 February, 18:13
Italy House MPs give Bersani standing ovation during debate (ANSA) - Rome, February 25 - Italian Lower House MPs on Tuesday greeted former Democratic Party (PD) chief Pier Luigi Bersani, who has been recovering from a near-fatal brain aneurysm in January, with a standing ovation lasting several minutes as he entered on a surprise visit during a parliamentary debate on the new government of fledgling Premier Matteo Renzi.

Renzi's government faces the second of two parliamentary confidence votes in the Lower House after the new executive was sworn in at the weekend.

Covering his face with his hands, the former center-left party chairman appeared moved by the warm welcome at his first appearance since his illness.

The debate was suspended briefly as he was surrounded by majority and opposition MPs and journalists.

"I'm fine, how are you?" Bersani told them.

"I came to hug Enrico Letta, isn't he here yet?" he added of his former second-in-command of the PD leadership, who was Italy's premier until last week.

"Thank you @pbersani for being in the House today. A gesture not to be taken for granted, and a particularly important one for me. Thank you," Renzi tweeted before going over to greet and hug Bersani.

"A great lesson in style from @pbersani: showing up in the House to vote his confidence in the Renzi government," tweeted deputy PD whip Sandra Zampa.

Bersani resigned as party chairman after he failed to create a coalition government following an inconclusive general election in February 2013.

He underwent emergency brain surgery in mid-January after he was admitted to hospital on January 5.