By Marzia De Giuli
ROME, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Contenders for Italy's power prepare to fight across the Senate battlefield to win the next government mandate as well as the difficult task of pulling the country out of recession.
Five weeks before national vote, parties filed their lists of names for parliament seats on Monday, ending days of debate about candidacy criteria after a series of scandals hit the political spectrum over the past months.
The last to show its cards by the deadline for submission was the People of Freedom (PdL) party of former premier Silvio Berlusconi after he was pushed hard for purging the lists of some senior members linked to criminal cases.
Surveys have pointed that former industry minister Pier Luigi Bersani, caretaker prime minister Mario Monti and Berlusconi, though the 76-year-old media tycoon has promised he would not be the premier again, will compete for victory.
Bersani has defined himself to be a pro-Europe leader who is ready to respect all the commitments made within the European Union while asking to concentrate more on growth and social justice. The leader said to be in favor of a personal tax for the wealthy and aims at supporting made-in-Italy products, investments and new technologies in order to re-launch the economy.
Berlusconi wants a reflection on the choices made by the "Germano-centric" EU which has created "stricter budgets and compromised growth." He has proposed to review the relationship between the euro and the European Central Bank (ECB) to make the single currency more solid, and counts on abolishing the property tax while increasing taxes on alcohol and cigarettes.
Monti, who was appointed at the helm of a technocratic government when Italy was on the verge of falling victim to the European debt crisis in Nov. 2011, has pulled the eurozone's third largest economy back from the brink of fiscal collapse.
His pro-Europe program is committed to an "agenda" of growth-oriented policies for a more efficient public administration, opening the markets of goods and services, and increasing investments for research and innovation.
Two other figures, comedian Beppe Grillo and former anti-mafia magistrate Antonio Ingroia, will stand before the electorate. Their respective formations, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and Civil Revolution, are both attractive for the part of electorate which was nauseated by widespread corruption in the political world.
However, analysts agreed that the Senate will be at the real center of the election campaign. Differently from the lower chamber where allocation is national, the seats of the upper house are won on the basis of majorities in 17 regions, which means that obtaining more votes nationwide does not automatically mean winning a parliament majority.
Bersani has repeatedly said he was certain that his center-left coalition between the Democratic Party (PD) and Left, Ecology and Freedom (SEL) would defeat Berlusconi's center-right "across the country." In such a case, he would be able to form a government and becomes the prime minister.
Most recent opinion polls have showed in effect that the PD-SEL is indeed in front of the alliance between PdL and its resumed ally Northern League, followed by that of Monti's centrist forces.
"But if in some regions the center-left's victory is almost certain, in several others the outcome is undefined or presently in favor of the center-right," noted Renato Mannheimer, one of Italy's leading electoral analysts.
Even assumed that the result would be in favor of Bersani's coalition in 13 regions, electoral competition in the uncertain ones, to a large extent those allocating more seats, is fundamental.
The bottom line is that to deprive the center-left formation of an absolute majority within the Senate, it would be enough for Berlusconi to win Lombardy together with any of the other critical regions, said another renowned election expert and political science professor at LUISS University in Rome, Roberto D'Alimonte.
According to political observers, should the PD-SEL coalition get a majority in the lower chamber but not in the Senate, it is likely that they will need the support of an extra force, and it is here that the Monti's group enters the game.
Bersani, despite his alliance with more radical SEL, has kept open channels of communication with Monti, whose group includes the Union of the Center (UDC) and the Future and Freedom for Italy (FLI) moderate parties as well as a number of civil dignitaries outside the political sphere.
Local media said there have been meetings between the two leaders over the past few days with the view of some kind of "anti-Berlusconi agreement."