Berlusconi, with girlfriend, aims to be Italy's president. Image: Facebook

Berlusconi threatens government coalition if Draghi becomes Italy’s president


The ex-prime minister and Forza Italia leader, Silvio Berlusconi reportedly threatened to withdraw his party from the government if Mario Draghi is elected president. The secret ballot for Italy’s president begins on 24th January.

Berlusconi served four times as prime minister. He previously said he would run to become Italy’s president. The scandal-ridden businessman is in Rome trying to drum up votes as his campaign gets under way.

Berlusconi aims for presidency

The secret ballot is among over 1,000 parliamentarians and regional representatives. It gets underway on 24th January and may go through several rounds before the election of a successor to Sergio Mattarella. The current incumbent steps down on 3 February.

Partly leaders ordinarily agree on a candidate, but there are no official candidates in Italy’s presidential elections.

Draghi or Berlusconi for president?

According to the press, Berlusconi said that if Draghi was no longer prime minister, “Forza Italia would leave the majority”. If Draghi becomes president, Italian general elections would be brought forward a year.

Who do Italians back for the seven-year role? According to a poll released on Tuesday, over 50% of Italians back Draghi for the presidency with 39% behind Berlusconi.

Many credit Draghi with restoring stability in Italy. The Economist sang his praises in 2021 for his economic nous, while Time magazine said he was one of the most influential people of the year.

Berlusconi, 85, is a favourite among the rightwing parties for the mandate. Temporarily banned from public office after a tax fraud conviction in 2013, Berlusconi is still on trial for allegedly bribing witnesses in an underage prostitution case.  The octogenarian has reportedly been pursuing what the Italian press has described as his “Operation Squirrel campaign”.

Draghi vetoes questions on presidential race

Antonio Tajani, the deputy Forza Italia leader, said Draghi needed to remain prime minister and that with Berlusconi as president, “the government would be solid”.

“Only Draghi can do this [prime minister] job,” Tajani told La Stampa. “Without Draghi it’s impossible to have a unity government … we’re participating in this government because of Draghi.”

Draghi began a press conference on Monday night by vetoing questions about the presidential race.

Tajani said Forza Italia’s withdrawal from government would be inevitable if Draghi moved to the presidential palace.

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