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On Thursday Senator Sergio De Gregorio quit the center-left coalition and has entered the non-aligned "mixed" group. At this point Prodi's government is practically on par in the Senate with the center-right coalition as the Senate President (Franco Marini) usually abstains from voting (157 to 157).

De Gregorio was elected in Antonio Di Pietro's "Party-of-Values." He became President of the Defense Commission thanks to backroom tactics that saw the official center-left candidate, Lidia Menapace, lose out in a surprise move by the center-right commissioners.

De Gregorio was a member of Forza Italia for ten years. FI refused to present him as a candidate in the last elections. He then passed over to Di Pietro's party and was designated senator when the center-left won the April general elections.

He now declares that he does not subscribe to the center-left's program, especially to the conflict-of-interests law draft that he feels "punishes Berlusconi." He also declared he will vote now "according to conscious," whatever that means in his case.

Minister Chiti has invited him to resign from parliament since he had been elected with votes of the center-left.

Berlusconi's electoral law eliminated preferences for candidates in the general elections. Voters could only vote for parties. This is tantamount to having parliament members indirectly designated according to party whims. Therefore, a member of parliament owes his designation to the coalition more than to the electors. By leaving the coalition and remaining in parliament, De Gregorio has carved himself a powerful niche to barter his key swing vote. Certainly in all consciousness.

This is not the first time Di Pietro has been a victim of double-crossing. In the 2001 elections his only candidate to win a seat in parliament, Valerio Carrara, immediately passed over to the ranks of Forza Italia.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat Sep 9th, 2006 at 04:09:34 AM EST

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