Friday

13th Dec 2019

Berlusconi wants to run in EP elections

  • Silvio Berlusconi - eyeing a seat in Brussels (Photo: European Parliament)

Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi - a convicted tax cheat – wants to be the lead candidate for his Forza Italia party in May’s European Parliament elections, despite being legally banned from doing so.

“If it will be possible, I will be happy to run,” Berlusconi said Friday, in a public phone call with supporters attending a party rally in Tuscany.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

In August, Berlusconi was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment for fraudulent accounting at his family media firm, Mediaset. He has yet to serve his sentence, which was cut to one year due to the effects of a 2006 pardon law: Milan judges are expected to decide on 10 April whether he should be placed under house arrest or be allowed to perform community service.

But the scandal-prone politician was also kicked out of parliament and banned from standing in elections for six years, on account of a probity law against convicted lawmakers.

The 77-year-old says the law is unfair because it is being applied retroactively: it was passed in 2012, whereas Berlusconi’s tax fraud took place in 2003-4. He has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights over the issue, and is banking on a “quick reply” in his favour.

In fact, the Strasbourg-based court is unlikely to deliver a ruling before mid-April, when Italian political parties have to present an official list of candidates to the interior ministry. Forza Italia could still put forward Berlusconi’s name, but the courts would strike it down, in a move that would likely spark fresh protests from his supporters against allegedly biased magistrates.

"I think it would be a grave breach of the right to represent Italian conservatives if Berlusconi were not allowed as a candidate," top Forza Italia executive Giovanni Toti told the La Stampa newspaper.

He also tweeted that rivals were “scared” by Berlusconi’s candidacy.

His election bid came at the end of a week dominated by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s announcement of a 10-billion-euro tax cut for low-paid workers, due to come into effect in May.

Economists have long advised Italian governments to reduce taxes on labour, in order to boost growth and jobs in one of the eurozone’s most anemic economies. But Renzi, who took office only three weeks ago, admitted that his was also a vote-grabbing initiative ahead of the EU vote.

The ambitious centre-left leader has often been compared to the conservative Berlusconi, due to his populist touch. Another senior Forza Italia figure, Denis Verdini, has described Renzi as “very dangerous,” because “he knows how to present himself with slogans, he steals our arguments.”

A poll published Friday by the Ixe institute said Renzi’s Democratic Party would win 29.4 percent of the votes in the EU elections, against 23.4 percent for Forza Italia and 22.6 percent for the anti-establishment Five Star Movement of comedian Beppe Grillo. A far-left list linked to Greek leader Alexis Tsipras was in a distant fourth position, on 6.5 percent.

Italian court upholds Berlusconi jail sentence

An Italian court Thursday upheld former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's prison sentence in a move that could lead to political instability in the eurozone's third largest economy.

Schinas spars with MEPs over migration job title

A number of MEPs pressed Margaritis Schinas to drop the "Protecting the European Way of Life" title of his portfolio, which deals with migration. But Schinas refused, claiming it needs protecting from terrorists and populists. He failed to convince.

Poland's 'vague' nominee flops in EU hearing

Poland's nominee for agriculture commissioner, Janusz Wojciechowski, is likely to face a second hearing after MEPs from top political groups lambasted his "vague" performance on Tuesday.

Analysis

How MEPs will quiz the next commissioners

The EU parliament will organise public hearings to assess the future commissioners' suitability for their job and their knowledge about the portfolio they had assigned, before the new EU commission takes office on 1 November.

Interview

EP must be tougher on nominees, MEP says

European commissioners ought to be forced to sell shares in firms that they will one day regulate, a French MEP at the coalface of an EU vetting process has said.

News in Brief

  1. Slovenia, Croatia ex-leaders highlight jailed Catalans
  2. Italian court tells Facebook to reopen fascist party's account
  3. EU extends sanctions on Russia until mid-2020
  4. UK exit poll gives Johnson majority of 86
  5. Orban: 'financial guarantees' to reach climate neutrality
  6. Merkel hopes EU leaders agree 2050 climate-neutrality
  7. Czech PM: nuclear energy needed for climate neutrality
  8. Hungary: Climate target is burden, EU should help

Parliament outmanoeuvred in EU top-post game

The European Parliament on Tuesday lost a years-long power struggle, and gave up winning more influence on European politics via the so-called Spitzenkandidat process it had championed.

Who is the new EU parliament president, David Sassoli?

The 63-year-old centre-left Italian MEP was elected president of the European Parliament, with 345 votes. A former journalist, Sassoli has experience as a vice-president of the parliament, but is little known.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Huge win for Conservatives in UK election
  2. Behind bars: a visit to an imprisoned Catalan politician
  3. Leaders agree 2050 climate neutrality - without Poland
  4. EU leaders cagey on 'Future of Europe' conference
  5. Pressure mounts to grill Malta's Muscat at EU summit
  6. Revealed: little evidence to justify internal border checks
  7. Europe needs to make mind up on relations with Africa
  8. Leaders face crucial EU summit for climate action

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us