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Berlusconi suggests meetings with Renzi on reforms

Alfano says little political benefit in further sessions

08 April, 12:02
Berlusconi suggests meetings with Renzi on reforms (ANSA) - Rome, April 8 - Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi has called for more meetings between him and current Premier Matteo Renzi to discuss political reforms, but on Tuesday, some said there was no point.

Former Berlusconi supporter and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said that he saw no political benefit in further sessions between Berlusconi, leader of the centre right Forza Italia (FI) and Renzi, who is head of the centre left Democratic Party (PD).

"The request for a meeting between Silvio Berlusconi and Matteo Renzi does not seem to have a point for the fundamental political agenda," Alfano, leader of the New Centre Right (NCD), a group of lawmakers who split from Berlusconi's party late last year.

"People are suffering and need to have concrete answers," he added in a radio interview Tuesday.

In a note issued Monday, Berlusconi said he was "sure that in meeting with Renzi it will be possible to develop procedures and details...and the timing," of political reforms. Renzi won the backing of Berlusconi for institutional reforms to make Italy cheaper and easier to govern in January. But more recently, the FI has expressed frustration that an election bill Berlusconi and Renzi also agreed on has not yet started to come under examination in the Senate after clearing the Lower House.

There have also been differences over a bill approved by Renzi's cabinet to change the Constitution to turn the Senate into a leaner assembly of local-government representatives with blunted lawmaking powers. At the weekend Berlusconi said parts of the bill were "unacceptable".

On Monday FI House Whip Renato Brunetta said the government had to get the election bill through the Senate by Easter or see deal with Berlusconi on the reforms collapse.

Renzi said Monday that he had no intention of bowing to such pressure over the reforms, which will also see the country's provincial governments abolished. "We don't accept ultimatums from anyone, never mind Brunetta," said Renzi, who has said he will quit politics if he fails to deliver on his pledge to revamp the Senate.

"If they want to play ball over the reforms, fine. If not, we'll get them though the Senate (without FI's support)," he said. Renzi on Monday also denied speculation that a meeting was planned with Berlusconi to try to smooth over the tensions that had emerged over the last few days.

"I don't know of any meetings," Renzi told journalists after taking a trip to a bookshop near the premier's office.