Italy’s political heavyweight Silvio Berlusconi, who was the country’s prime minister for four terms, has announced that he’ll run for Senate in the snap election next month.
“I think I’ll run for the Senate,” Berlusconi, who now leads the center-right party Forza Italia, told Rai Radio 1 station on Wednesday.
The 85-year-old media tycoon said he was making the move after “receiving pressure from so many, even outside Forza Italia,” and expressed hope that it would “make everyone happy.”
The announcement coincided with the launch of an advertising campaign, which saw billboards with a picture of a younger-looking Berlusconi and a slogan reading, “Now more than ever, pick a side,” popping up on train and subway stations across the country.
Berlusconi, who is Italy’s longest-serving prime minister since dictator Benito Mussolini, had been absent from the country’s political scene since 2013, when he was sentenced to four years in prison for tax fraud and barred from holding public office.
The ban was lifted by the court in 2018, with the veteran politician becoming a Member of the European parliament (MEP) a year later.
Berlusconi still has unresolved legal issues as he is currently on trial for allegedly bribing witnesses in a previous case that accused him of paying for sex with an underage prostitute, which he was found not guilty of back in 2014.
Italy is holding a snap election on September 25 following the collapse of the government of Mario Draghi in July, after all of the members of the ruling coalition withdrew their support for the prime minister.
Berlusconi’s Forza Italia is running in coalition with two rightist parties, Giorgia Meloni’s ‘Brothers of Italy’, which is currently leading in the polls, and ‘Lega Nord’, led by Matteo Salvini, who was deputy PM between 2018 and 2019.
The trio is expected to win the vote by a confident margin, which could pave the way for Meloni, whose motto is “God, country, and family,” and who would become the first woman ever to head the Italian government.
When asked about this possibility, Berlusconi replied, “We have always said that whoever has the most votes will be proposed to the head of state as the candidate-premier. If it is Giorgia Meloni, I am sure that she will prove adequate for the difficult task.”
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