Media mogul Silvio Berlusconi has dropped a long-running bid to become Italy’s next president, just as the country prepares to choose a head of state for its notoriously volatile political system over the next seven years.
In a widely anticipated withdrawal statement, Berlusconi, 85, insisted he had enough support to win the election to Top office in Italy.
But the four-term former prime minister, who was convicted of tax fraud in October 2012, said he had decided not to consider his name so that lawmakers from across the political spectrum could choose Less divided candidates.
Berlusconi’s tenure has been tainted by sex scandals and alleged corruption, undermining his quest to elevate himself to a unified national father figure in a quixotic fashion.
“I decided to take another step on this path State responsibility,‘ Berlusconi wrote on Facebook.
While right-wing parties have pledged to back Berlusconi’s candidacy, left-wing parties have called his possible ascent to the presidency unacceptable and warned it could trigger the collapse of Italy’s fragile government of national unity. Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
Berlusconi “sold so hard that he clearly came to the conclusion that he couldn’t”, said Daniele Albertazzi, an expert on Italian politics and right-wing populism at the University of Surrey.
It was later reported that Berlusconi, who was suffering from Covid in 2020, has admission Routine medical examinations in Milan.
Giuseppe Conte, president of the populist 5-Star Movement and former prime minister, tweeted that Berlusconi’s withdrawal would allow serious cross-party negotiations on potential consensus candidates for the presidency.
“We have made it clear: Silvio Berlusconi’s candidacy is unacceptable,” Conte tweeted. “With his retirement, we take a step forward and begin serious discussions among political forces to provide the nation with a high-profile, authoritative consensus candidate.”
Former European Central Bank President Mario Draghi was identified as a potential presidential candidate in the electoral process that officially began on Monday, when more than 1,000 voters cast a secret ballot for their preferred candidate.
Many in Italy’s business community are eager to see Draghi elected president — which would give him powers to supervise Italy’s politicians and push for the continuation of a €200bn EU-funded economic and social reform program.
But many politicians appear cautious about promoting Draghi to the presidency.
Some people prefer less powerful people. Others fear Draghi’s rise to power could trigger the downfall of the current fragile National Unity government, as the diverse coalition may fail to agree on a successor prime minister.
“He’s not going to just unveil monuments and give speeches – he’s going to have a real impact,” Albertazzi said. “Many in Parliament are concerned that choosing Draghi would mean new elections in the spring, and they absolutely want to avoid that.”
Berlusconi said it was important to keep Draghi’s government in power to continue investment and economic reforms.
Italy’s presidential election is notoriously unpredictable, as more than 1,000 lawmakers and regional representatives try to focus on a single candidate. Candidates must secure the support of two-thirds of voters in the first three rounds of secret ballots, but then the threshold is lowered to a simple majority, or 50% plus one.