Renzi’s new party faces uphill struggle to win moderate voters

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Former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s new party will not find it easy to claim the moderate middle ground of Italian politics according to the first polls after its breakaway from the ruling centre-left Democratic Party (PD) show.

The opinion poll carried for RAI television said only 3.4% of voters would support the new Italia Viva (Italy Alive) party. A poll for private channel La 7, gave it 5.2%.

This week 40 members of parliament joined Renzi’s party, making its backing indispensable for the survival of the new governing coalition of the PD and the 5-Star Movement.

This came as a surprise to a few as former PD leader played a major role in forming the new alliance after the far-right League abandoned its coalition with the 5-Star. Renzi has said he will back the government.

Renzi, who has had a turbulent relation with his former party in recent years, aims to attract centrist voters ahead of a widely expected proportional reform of the electoral law that is seen enhancing the bargaining power of small parties.

The poll for Rai said the PD has lost a 2.8 points in a week, suggesting it had shed votes to Renzi’s new movement.

In an interview with la Repubblica daily on Friday, former centre-left Prime Minister Romano Prodi said the name Italia Viva would be more suitable for a yogurt, adding that Renzi’s move was a threat to the new government.

“You can’t work to build a government and immediately undermine its stability,” Prodi said.

Former conservative Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, whose Forza Italia party has been a natural home of centrist voters for most of the last 25 years, attacked Renzi over his role in forging the PD/5-Star alliance.

“Renzi was the main architect of the most left-wing government in the republican history. I do not see moderate and liberal voters giving him their vote”, Berlusconi told Corriere della Sera newspaper on Friday.

Via Corriere Della Sera / Repubblica/ Reuters

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