Italy set to chose between senior loyalist and young pretender in election run-off
The secretary of Italy’s Democratic Party, Pierluigi Bersani, and the mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, go head to head tomorrow in a run-off election to decide who will lead the party at next spring’s general election.
More than three million Italians are expected to turn out to vote in a contest that looks like a clash between a senior party loyalist and a young pretender.
Could it be these primaries will not only pick the next leader of the centre-left, but that they will also block a second term of office for the current prime minister, the non-elected technocrat Mario Monti? In the wake of a lively campaign that saw 3.1 million Italians turn out to vote in the first round last Sunday, a second term in office for a non-elected prime minister could well become a political non-starter.
When Bersani and Renzi went head to head in a TV debate on Wednesday, more than 6.5 million people or a 22.85 per cent audience share tuned in. Presumably those viewers were interested in assessing the next leader, not someone who would again prop up a Monti technocrat government.
International opinion sees Mr Monti as the man who saved Italy from financial meltdown last year when the country’s borrowing costs prompted the resignation of Silvio Berlusconi.
Thursday’s yield on 10-year bonds was 4.47 per cent, the lowest level since December 2010, representing a clear indication of investor faith in an Italy governed by Mr Monti.
With the centre-right camp in confusion as Mr Berlusconi considers a “retaking to the field”, perhaps refounding his winning Forza Italia party in the process, the centre-left clearly fancies its chances of victory against a divided centre-right. At that point, the new centre-left leader will have to decide whether to form his own government or continue with the PD’s support of a Monti government. All indications suggest both men would want to form their own governments.
Opinion polls suggest Mr Bersani will win tomorrow. Not only does he go into the election on the back of a 44.9 per cent share of the vote last Sunday but he may well pick up much of the 15 per cent returned by Puglia regional governor Nichi Vendola. In what has generally been a good natured campaign, Bersani (61) has been pressed hard by Renzi (37) who promises Obama-style change.