Italy: Bank scandal threatening centre-left lead

Italy: Bank scandal threatening centre-left lead
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With just a month before the Italian general election, the centre-left continues to head the polls despite a banking scandal that is threatening to erode its lead.

The latest research puts Pier Luigi Bersani’s Democratic Party between seven and a half points and 12 points ahead of the centre-right coalition headed by Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party.

He officially launched the coalition’s election campaign at a party convention in Rome, calling for candidates to emphasise the achievements of his previous administrations.

It is the unfolding events at the oldest bank in the world that are threatening to narrow the gap. The Democratic Party has long-standing close ties with the Monte dei Paschi bank which has just announced losses from risky derivative deals that could cost nearly three-quarters of a billion euros.

A survey in La Stampa suggests that were the election held today, the centrist alliance led by the outgoing prime minister Mario Monti would play a key role, because the Pier Luigi Bersani’s Democratic Party would fall short of a majority in the senate and would need his support.

Separate research showed the anti-establishment comedian Beppe Grillo continuing to make ground with his Five Star Movement of Genoa securing an impressive 17% support.

Bersani’s opponents have been quick to latch onto the links between the Democratic Party and the bank based in Siena making an already bitter campaign even more combative.

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