Italy: Silvio Berlusconi hints at return to politics
Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi has suggested that he will attempt a return to power – using the old party name that brought him into politics two decades ago.
In an interview in Germany’s Bild newspaper yesterday, Mr Berlusconi said he is asked “often and emphatically” to step back into the political ring.
“I can only say I won’t let my old People of Freedom Party down. We will soon return to the old party name by the way, ‘Forza Italia’ (Go Italy).”
Mr Berlusconi came to power in 1994 using the catchy football chant as his motto, and he dominated Italy’s political scene until he was forced to resign in November with the country in financial shambles and a personal legacy tarnished by scandals. By yesterday afternoon, though, enough of his political allies had criticised the name change to compel Mr Berlusconi to issue a statement backing down, saying his was just a proposal, not a solid decision by the party.
In a way it was classic Berlusconi revisionism: the interview with the name change quote was posted verbatim on his website, yet Mr Berlusconi insisted he had been misunderstood.
In recent days, members of his inner circle have spoken openly that the media mogul would run in elections next spring. On Sunday, his apparent political heir, Angelino Alfano, essentially admitted he would step aside to make way for Mr Berlusconi.
But not all party members favour his return. Rome’s mayor Gianni Alemanno, for example, noted that People of Freedom members had elected Mr Alfano party secretary with the express intention of making him the centre-right candidate in 2013 elections. In an interview with Rome daily La Repubblica, Mr Alemanno said a party primary would be necessary to determine if voters really are behind Mr Berlusconi, despite the scandals that continue to trouble him.
Even Mr Alfano hinted that the name change was a bad idea, noting that the People of Freedom party was a beloved “project” that involved millions of Italians.
In addition, the Northern League party, Mr Berlusconi’s long-term coalition ally, no longer supports him, complicating any re-election bid.
In Italy, it’s common for political parties to change their names and logos in a bid to reinvent themselves.
In the Bild interview, Mr Berlusconi said he saw his resignation as a way to allow Premier Mario Monti to use his broad support to bring about necessary changes. Mr Monti, an economist and former European Commissioner, has raised taxes and pushed through painful reforms to the pension and labour market systems.
Mr Berlusconi, who has frequently criticised the austerity policies followed by Mr Monti said he had a good relationship with Germany but said he was against “exaggeratedly strict budget rigour”, because it hampered progress.
“We want a more European Germany and not a more German Europe,” he said.
Mr Monti has ruled out running for office when his term ends in 2013.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North