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Grillo asks Bersani why won't back Rodota'

'Too popular, incorruptible'' demands anti-establishment comic

19 April, 15:54
Grillo asks Bersani why won't back Rodota' (ANSA) - Rome, April 19 - Anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) leader Beppe Grillo on Friday asked Democratic Party (PD) chief Pier Luigi Bersani why he would not switch his support from PD candidate Romano Prodi to the M5S's man, Stefano Rodota', in Italy's presidential election.

Comedian-tuned politician Grillo, who has the balance of power in a hung parliament where the PD holds the House but not the equally powerful Senate, said on his blog that Constitutional lawyer Rodota' was a left-winger who polls say enjoys big popular support.

"I can't get my head round why (Bersani's) party won't vote for Rodota'. Is he too intellectual? Too independent? Too honest? Too popular...Too incorruptible?, Grillo said. "I'd like an answer from Bersani".

The PD voted Friday to propose ex-premier and former European Commission chief Romano Prodi as its candidate, despite widespread grass-roots calls for Rodota'.

Rodota', who was chairman of the first heir to Italy's once-powerful Communist Party, is seen as potentially more divisive than Prodi, a former Christian Democrat who twice defeated the left's nemesis, three-time premier Silvio Berlusconi.

On paper the PD and allies are four votes short of the 504 votes needed to elect Prodi in Friday afternoon's fourth ballot.

But the ex-premier's bid may be scuppered by unhappy backers of the PD's first candidate, ex-Senate Speaker Franco Marini, whose bid failed Thursday, as well as supporters of other party heavyweights like ex-premier Massimo D'Alema.

The voting could go into the weekend.