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Defeated Renzi pledges not to split Italy's Democratic Party

'I'll be loyal to Bersani' says Florence Mayor

03 December, 11:53
Defeated Renzi pledges not to split Italy's Democratic Party (see related stories) (ANSA) - Rome, December 3 - Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi has rejected speculation he could split from the Democratic Party (PD) to form his own group after losing to party leader Pier Luigi Bersani in the centre left's primary runoff. "I'll be loyal to Bersani," Renzi said after collecting around 39% of the votes cast on Sunday compared to over 60% for Bersani.

The run-up to Sunday's runoff was marred with a dispute over whether Renzi had broken the rules for the primaries, because a foundation linked to him took out allegedly misleading advertising in the national press calling on people to vote.

Renzi's camp also said many people in Tuscany were not allowed to vote on Sunday even though they should have been able to.

But the 37-year-old, who presented himself as a moderniser, was graceful in defeat.

He admitted he had made mistakes in his campaign and said Bersani was the "clear" winner.

The Florence mayor, who has aroused suspicion from some members of the PD's rank and file for allegedly being too business-friendly, also managed to joke about Sunday's outcome.

"I finally did something left-wing - I lost," he quipped.

He added that he would continue his campaign for the party and for Italy's whole political arena to renew itself. Renzi has made several calls for older figures from Italy's political class to be "scrapped", including members of the PD. This has led to him being portrayed at times as an opportunist who is playing on this issue because of his youth.

"We tried to change the political world and we didn't manage to," he said.

"Once we've shaken off the disappointment, we'll resume the path we've taken. We have three things on our side - enthusiasm, time and freedom".