Italy’s former leader Silvio Berlusconi Monday gave a strong hint that he would return to politics, declaring he would “never leave his party in the lurch” as rumours swirled of an imminent comeback.
In an interview in Germany’s mass circulation daily Bild, Berlusconi said he was “often and persistently” asked if he would put his name forward to lead his PDL party into parliamentary elections planned for April.
“I can only say that I will never leave my ‘People of Freedom Party’ in the lurch. We are also soon going to go back to the old name of ‘Forza Italy’ (Go Italy),” revealed the 76-year-old in comments published in German.
The media magnate, forced out amid sleaze claims as the Italian economy crashed last year, hit back at allegations of scandals and said he was to thank for reforms that aimed to improve the country’s budgetary situation.
Referring to the so-called Rubygate scandal, named after a pole dancer linked to Berlusconi, he said: “The whole thing was a monstrous campaign of defamation by our left-led justice system.”
On the eurozone turmoil, he said he was “the first Western leader to recognise the financial crisis and introduce reforms.”
“If we have now got our national budget in hand, this is to a large part due to my government,” said Berlusconi.
PDL leader Angelo Alfano said Wednesday that he was among a raft of people calling for a Berlusconi comeback and predicted that he would soon be back in Italian politics.
Opinion polls have shown that the PDL could win up to 30 percent with Berlusconi at the helm in the 2013 elections, but only 10 percent under Alfano’s leadership.
However, a new poll published Friday showed the popularity of the current prime minister, Mario Monti, had risen to 49 percent and that a return of Berlusconi to the political fray would make little difference to his party.