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Calenda pulls out of election pact with PD

Meloni reaffirms premiership claim if FdI comes first

(ANSA) - ROME, AUG 8 - Centrist Azione (Action) party leader Carlo Calenda on Sunday pulled out of an election pact with the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) boosting the opposing right/centre right alliance's already high chances of coming to power in Italy on September 25.
    The former industry minister said he had been forced to withdraw by the PD's teaming up with two leftwing parties, Italian Left (SI) and Green Europe (EV), and Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio's new Civic Commitment (IC) party.
    "I found myself side by side with parties who voted 54 no-confidence votes in (outgoing premier Mario) Draghi," said Calenda who is campaigning on continuing the agenda of the former European central banker.
    PD leader and former premier Enrico Letta accused Calenda of "consigning the country to the right", where a Brothers of Italy-led coalition is favoured to win next month's vote.
    There is speculation that Calenda may now team up with another centrist leader, former PD leader and ex-premier Matteo Renzi, whose Italia Viva (IV) party had been set to run alone having been shunned by the centre left.
    Calenda's erstwhile allies More Europe are expected to keep to the pact they signed with the PD a week ago.
    More Europe bigwig and former foreign minister and European commissioner Emma Bonino said "it doesn't make sense to change your mind every three days".
    More Europe are polling at around 2%, as is Azione, while the SI-EV alliance is at around 3.5% and IC 3%.
    The rightwing Brothers of Italy (FdI), led by premiership candidate Giorgia Meloni who could become Italy's first woman prime minister, is leading the race on over 23% with the PD second on just under 23%.
    FdI's rightwing ally the League has about 14% and the third ally, Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right Forza Italia (FI) party, about 8%.
    Together, the rightwing coaltion has over 45%, more than enough to see it claiming power.
    Letta had been seeking to widen the centre left's appeal with an alliance with former premier Giuseppe Conte's populist 5-Star Movement (M5S), but that bid was scuppered when Conte became the prime mover in a shift to defenestrate Draghi that gathered momentum when the centre right and right came aboard.
    Meloni on Monday reaffirmed her right to be her coalition's premiership candidate, on the basis of the rule that the party that gets the most votes on September 25 will see its leader vying to get a role that is in the ultimate gift of President Sergio Mattarella. (ANSA).


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