Berlusconi bidding for Italian presidency

Berlusconi aims for Italian presidency


Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister whose behaviour and personality divides the population, is bidding for the Italian presidency. Ill health, scandals and his advanced age are not deterring the politician and businessman from pursuing his dream.

Silvio Berlusconi, 85 years of age, is putting himself forward for the race to become the next Italian president. Should he succeed, it would transform the political landscape of Italy.

Berlusconi once promised his mother he would become president one day. It seems time, a long trail of scandals and ill health are not going to stop him pursuing his dream.

2022 – time for a new Italian head of state

Parliament will choose a new head of state early next year. It is not usual for candidates to declare themselves ahead of the election. Berlusconi’s name, however, has been repeatedly mentioned in the media; he is not denying anything.

Berlusconi’s stance is as an elder statesman of European politics. He is not mentioning his temporary ban from public office after a conviction for tax fraud in 2013. Berlusconi is also on trial for allegedly bribing witnesses in an underage prostitution case tied to his infamous “bunga bunga” sex parties of more than a decade ago.

“I’ve met him twice in the last two weeks and he was totally fired up,” said a lawmaker from Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, The Guardian reported.

Is he too divisive?

Many analysts believe Berlusconi is too divisive a personality to garner the support necessary to become president.

Enrico Letta, leader of the centre-left Democratic party (PD), has already ruled out backing Berlusconi. He said the election of the president “has to be based on a large majority … otherwise the government will immediately fall apart.”

Even the parties on the far right seem unconvinced at the moment. Matteo Salvini who leads the League, said in January this year, “Berlusconi would be a great president of the republic”. However, last week he was less effusive: “All candidates over 50 are eligible, there is no one more or less eligible according to Italian law.”

Berlusconi trying to appear more ‘universal’

Berlusconi recently praised the flagship citizens’ income welfare scheme of his arch political enemy, the Five Star Movement, which he has previously likened to the Communist party.

A winning candidate needs to secure two-thirds of votes. However, if no one reaches that target in the first three rounds, the bar lowers to 50% of votes plus one. Some believe Berlusconi is simply hoping to gain leverage to put himself in a position to act as a kingmaker.

Meanwhile, the Italian national newspaper il Fatto Quotidiano has launched a petition to convince members of parliament not to vote for him.

“The president of the republic must be the guarantor of the constitution,” it said. “Silvio Berlusconi is the guarantor of corruption and prostitution.”

Over 160,000 people have already signed the petition.

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