Monday 15 July 2019

Berlusconi (82) returns to electoral fray to run for Europe

Silvio Berlusconi. Photo: AP
Silvio Berlusconi. Photo: AP

Crispian Balmer

Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is to stand for the European Parliament in May, he said yesterday.

It will be the 82-year-old media mogul's first run for office since he was found guilty of tax fraud in 2013.

He was barred from office after his graft conviction, but the ban was lifted last May.

"At my ripe old age, I have decided out of a sense of responsibility to go to Europe, which lacks a deep world vision," he said yesterday.

Having his name on the top of his Forza Italia party's EU ticket will boost its visibility and almost certainly ensure his election. But there is no guarantee he will spend much time in Brussels.

Italian leaders often stand in European votes only to focus on domestic politics after the ballot.

Mr Berlusconi said he wants to stand to fight the 5-Star Movement, which has formed a coalition with his traditional ally, the League.

"We need to change this government, which includes the 5-Star Movement that is led by people who have no experience and are incompetent," Mr Berlusconi added.

"The alliance [with the League] is not natural and I do not think it will last long."

Mr Berlusconi campaigned for Forza in last March's national election but said his inability to stand hurt its chances and for the first time the group trailed the League, by 14pc of the vote to 17.35pc.

Since then, Forza Italia has slid further, with most recent surveys putting it on 8.2pc against 32.2pc for the League, which has jumped above 5-Star to become Italy's most popular party.

Mr Berlusconi has been prime minister of Italy four times in a political career beset by corruption and sex scandals.

Irish Independent

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