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TV journalist put forward for Italian presidency

Italy’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement chose a television journalist as its candidate for president yesterday and hinted it could cooperate with centre left if she were elected.

No clear favourite has emerged among the divided parties

Choosing a successor to President Giorgio Napolitano, whose term ends on May 15, is a vital step toward resolving the stalemate created by an inconclusive general election in February that left no party able to form a government.

Once elected by parliament, the new president’s first task will be to find a way out of the deadlock, either by persuading the parties to come to an accord or by calling new elections.

The two houses of parliament, along with delegates from the regions, will start voting on Thursday, a process that may involve several rounds. No clear favourite has emerged among the divided parties.

The 5-Star Movement‘s leader said if Pier Luigi Bersani’s centre-left bloc – which won the most seats in February but not enough to govern – backed investigative journal-ist Milena Gabanelli for president, 5-Star may re-consider its refusal to have anything to do with it.

“I’d like to give Bersani a piece of advice, without any irony or joking. Seriously, it could be a meeting point. Vote for Gabanelli,” Beppe Grillo said in online message. “It would be a great signal.”

Bersani has repeatedly called on 5-Star to form a government with him, but his overtures have been constantly rejected by Grillo, whose following is based on public disgust with mainstream politicians.

Grillo did not explicitly say he would consider forming a coalition with Bersani, but spoke of co-operation in a way he had declined.

“Think about it, it could really be the beginning of who knows what, a collaboration, it could be. Try it and we’ll see,” he wrote.

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