Silvio Berlusconi--Italy’s polarizing ex-prime minister who left office amid scandal--appeared down and out around this time last year. But it appears he is planning an improbable comeback after a window of opportunity opened: Prime Minister Mario Monti’s resignation.
Monti announced Saturday that he would resign after the budget passes. His announcement came just two days after Berlusconi’s party withdrew parliamentary support for Monti’s technocrat government.
Just two months after being convicted on fraud charges, Berlusconi--who has held the office of prime minister three times in the past--told reporters at the practice field of AC Milan, the team he owns: “I am desperately concerned about the state, and once again I will run out of a sense of responsibility,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
“I’m going to race to win,” Berlusconi added, according to Reuters. The ex-premier said that he would campaign on a platform against austerity measures that Monti imposed.
Monti has said that he would no longer hold the prime minister’s office if Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party support runs out. The party’s leader, Angelino Alfano, announced that the party is “ready to approve the budget in the fastest possible manner,” reported Reuters.
This means that when the budget is passed and Monti resigns, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano will have to make the decision to dissolve parliament early and hold snap elections in February, or could wait until March or April.
“Berlusconi’s latest crusade is highly destabilizing for the political scene,” wrote Stefano Folli, a columnist for the Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore, reported the AFP news agency.
“His opponents are not so much afraid of Berlusconi himself but of a campaign built against Europe, Germany and economic austerity,” Folli wrote.
When Berlusconi resigned last year, he was facing allegations in a sex scandal and the Italian economy was in disarray, allowing for Monti’s government of technocrats to take over. At the time, Berlusconi looked nearly finished, but he still retained control over the People of Freedom party.
Berlusconi resigned last year when eurozone-approved austerity measures were passed by the Italian Parliament. When he stepped down, Berlusconi was met with boos and negative comments by a large angry crowd waiting for him outside the presidential palace.
However, according to Reuters, Berlusconi faces an uphill battle because his party trails greatly in opinion polls to the center-let 5-Star Movement headed by comic Beppe Grillo. There is also speculation that Monti himself might try to run for office.
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