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Renzi sees common ground holding up with Berlusconi's FI

Premier faces backlash to Senate reform from center right

01 April, 16:50
Renzi sees common ground holding up with Berlusconi's FI (ANSA) - Rome, April 1 - Italian Premier Matteo Renzi on Tuesday said his majority Democratic Party (PD) and the opposition Forza Italia (FI) party of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi were still largely on common ground with regard to reforms despite recent disputes. "It seems to me that the deal between the majority and FI is holding up," said Renzi. "We'll see who the true reformers are when it's time to vote". Renzi's relationship with Berlusconi has been key since his rise to premier earlier this year. Even before his party voted to oust his predecessor, Enrico Letta, Renzi was reaching across the aisle to negotiate with the center-right media magnate on election reforms - a move that distanced him from PD stalwarts, but ultimately cemented his reputation as a quick-acting reformer, often referred to as "demolition man", a moniker he relishes. But many wondered if the common ground had run its course this week after Renzi's government passed a decree Monday that will largely strip the Senate of its lawmaking powers, reduce the number of lawmakers, and scrap Italy's provincial governments in an effort meant to streamline governance and cut public expenses.

On Tuesday, the FI House whip likened Renzi to a "South American" dictator for the alleged heavy-handedness of the decree, and accused the center-left premier of using the law to defang the body in which his Democratic Party (PD) does not currently hold a majority. Brunetta formally outlined his opposition in a letter to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, asking him to back FI's request to open the "unconstitutional" law to amendments before it is enacted. Renzi, however, has been adamantly opposed to changing the law whatsoever, presenting it as a decree as opposed to a bill that would have needed approval in parliament before going into effect.