9th Aug 2020

Berlusconi pledges to leave politics in 2013

  • Berlusconi is Italy's longest-serving post-war premier (Photo: Council)

Italy's scandal-prone Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said he is "absolutely not" seeking re-election in 2013 and indicated he would like former justice minister Angelino Alfano to succeed him.

"If I could go now, I would," the 74-year-old Berlusconi said in an interview with La Repubblica.

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"I won't stand again. I will help Angelino Alfano in the election campaign and act as 'patron'. I will be 77 then and won't be able to be prime minister any more."

Former justice minister Alfano is currently heading Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party. At the age of 40, he is considered one of the 'young' politicians in Rome.

Berlusconi, a billionaire businessman and Italy's longest-serving post-war leader, also rejected the idea of becoming president of the country. With few actual powers, the ceremonial job is currently held by 86-year-old Giorgio Napolitano. Instead, Berlusconi tipped his chief of staff Gianni Letta as a possible president.

The maverick premier, whose popularity has hit record lows amid a series of sex and corruption scandals and a worsening economy, also blasted his well-respected finance minister for being too stingy with the country's coffers.

"He thinks he's a genius and that everyone else is an idiot. I put up with him because I've know him for a while and accept him for what he is. But he's not a team player ... he only speaks to the markets," Berlusconi said.

Later on Friday, Berlusconi was forced to allay market concerns about the comments and said they were "taken out of context."

Tremonti is also under fire after it emerged that he used an apartment put at his disposal by a former advisor who is under investigation for corruption.

Italian bond yields rose on Friday, reflecting market concerns about the country's political stability at a time when the spill-over effect from the Greek crisis is affecting Portugal's credit rating and with speculation ripe that Italy may be next.

The Tremonti comments come one day after Berlusconi made a gaffe on the foreign policy front exposing rifts in Nato over the bombing campaign in Libya.

"I am and was opposed to intervention in Libya but the parliament of my country tied my hands and I was forced to accept it," Berlusconi told a press conference on Thursday.

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