Berlusconi plots comeback
Silvio Berlusconi plans to contest next year's elections in Italy and attempt to become prime minister for a fourth time, according to a close aide.
One of Mr Berlusconi's closest confidants said he thought it was very likely that the controversial media mogul would stand.
"There's a big groundswell of support behind him becoming a candidate," said Angelino Alfano, whom Mr Berlusconi anointed as his successor before having to step down late last year. "I believe that he will decide to offer himself for re-election," said the Sicilian, who is chairman of the PDL party."
Mr Berlusconi believes he has a good chance of winning office, despite all the scandals and gaffes that have marred his reputation. The billionaire businessman's likely political comeback was also confirmed by one of his most ardent supporters, Daniela Santanche, who is an MP in his party.
"We have no one better than Berlusconi. For months I've been saying that he is our best candidate."
Mr Berlusconi plans to change the name of his party.
The tycoon was forced to resign in November over criticism of his handling of the economy and amid fears that Italy was being swept up in the eurozone crisis. He was replaced by a technical government led by Mario Monti, a professional economist, but Mr Monti's mandate runs out next year and elections are expected sometime in the spring. Mr Monti has said he will not stand again.
Mr Berlusconi has been studying voter intention surveys during the past few weeks and reportedly has come to the conclusion that his party can win only if he is at the helm.
Surveys have apparently shown that without Mr Berlusconi, the PDL would get only 10 per cent of the vote.
With him as its leader, it could expect to get 30 per cent -- enough for it to forge a coalition with a smaller party.
Mr Berlusconi is on trial in Milan on charges of abuse of office and paying for sex with teenage erotic dancer Karima El Mahroug whom prosecutors claim was working as an under-age prostitute. (© Daily Telegraph, London)