Italian centre-left leader attacks 'shameful fables'

Italian Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani on Friday attacked his rivals for their "shameful fables" at a rally in Florence ahead of elections later this month in which he is the favourite.

"We are living through Italy's worst post-war crisis," Bersani told a crowd of supporters in a theatre in the city where his former rival for the party leadership, Matteo Renzi, is mayor.

Referring to recent promises of tax cuts from his main rivals -- outgoing prime minister Mario Monti and controversial former premier Silvio Berlusconi -- he said they were "shameful fables".

"We have seen a festival of promises and generic attacks from our rivals," he said.

Italians take to the polls on February 24-25 and the Democratic Party is widely favoured, with a lead of between seven and 10 points against Berlusconi according to the most recent polls.

Bersani said his programme was based on "morality and work" and his first measure in government would be to re-introduce the crime of false accounting which was decriminalised by Berlusconi.

He also said Europe should show more "solidarity" and that, while it was important to balance public finances, an "urgent issue" for the medium term would be to make investments and offer jobs.

Italy's official unemployment rate is at a record high of 11.2 percent and the economy re-entered recession in the second half of last year under the weight of successive austerity programmes.