Italian center-right parties on Friday confirmed their support for former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s candidacy for the presidency.
The new Italian head of state, who will replace outgoing Sergio Mattarella, will be chosen by 1,000 lawmakers who will start voting on January 24.
“Coalition leaders have agreed that Silvio Berlusconi is the right person to hold this high office in these difficult times,” the leaders of Italy’s center-right parties said in a joint statement after a meeting at Berlusconi’s villa in Rome.
On Thursday, the leader of the right-wing League party, Matteo Salvini, said the centre-right coalition “is firm and unanimous in its support for Berlusconi”.
Besides the League, the centre-right coalition includes the far-right Italian Brothers and Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party.
Neither of the two main blocs in Italy’s parliament, the 5-Star Anti-System Movement and the center-left Democratic Party (PD), has a majority to push a presidential candidate through.
Although the position is largely ceremonial in Italy, the president plays a key role in resolving political stalemates, which are not uncommon in the southern European country.
“Who is Silvio Berlusconi?
A full-page ad published Thursday in the daily The Giornale, a newspaper owned by Berlusconi, asked: “Who is Silvio Berlusconi?” and “Who else but him?”
Featuring a decades-old photo of the former Prime Minister, the ad listed 22 characteristics and alleged achievements
The ad, officially attributed to a circle of party activists over 65, goes on to describe him as “a good and generous person”. It ended with him being described as a “freedom hero” who entered politics in 1994 to save Italy from “authoritarian rule”.
But, given his scandal-filled career, few political analysts see Berlusconi as a serious contender.
The 85-year-old media mogul served as Italy’s prime minister in three governments: from 1994 to 1995, from 2001 to 2006 and from 2008 to 2011. During three decades in politics, Berlusconi faced continuous legal problems, including legal proceedings for the infamous “bunga bunga”. “sex parties.
Berlusconi is seen as a divisive figure in Italian politics
Who else could be Italy’s next president?
The center-left Democratic Party has expressed strong support for a presidential bid by Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
Draghi said at his year-end press conference that he had accomplished what he set out to do, indicating his readiness to move into the presidential palace in the Quirinal.
Under Draghi, former head of the European Central Bank, the Italian economy has taken a turn. He led a remarkably united government, made up of almost all of Italy’s political parties.
He is seen as a political figure who can send a signal of continued Italian stability and credibility.
Draghi was chosen to lead a government of national unity last year
The 5-star populist movement, which has the largest number of parliamentarians, strongly opposes Berlusconi.
“Today we must put party membership aside, all political forces must converge on a personality who can represent Italians and the country,” said 5-star vice-president Mario Turco.
Although allied right-wing parties support Berlusconi, they would also benefit if Draghi left the premiership early, as it would trigger a snap election.
But Salvini admitted earlier that without Draghi as prime minister it would be difficult to keep the broad coalition of national unity afloat.
facebook/text (Reuters, TUSEN)