Italian former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has decided not to be elected president after all. Current Prime Minister Mario Draghi has the best cards for the succession of current President Sergio Mattarella.
The message that the 85-year-old leader of Forza Italia is retiring came at an online meeting of the right-wing and centre-right parties about a joint candidate for the presidency. Berlusconi had his statement read out.
In the statement, Berlusconi says that the parties can now choose another candidate ahead of the vote in parliament next week. “I have decided to take a different path and I ask you to refrain from proposing my name as president of the republic,” he reports. “I will serve my country in a different way.”
Too little support
Earlier this week, rumors were already circulating that Berlusconi would no longer throw at the presidency. Berlusconi, who was Prime Minister of Italy three times and caused a lot of turmoil in doing so, would not get enough parliamentarians behind him to become president.
He would miss about a hundred more of the 505 votes needed, Italian media reported earlier this week. Center-left parties announced earlier that they will not support the businessman and media mogul.
Berlusconi resigned as Prime Minister in 2011. His position had become untenable after several scandals, with the so-called bunga bunga sex parties blowing up the most dust. In 2010, he allegedly had sex with the 17-year-old prostitute Ruby at the time. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and was no longer allowed to exercise public function. Berlusconi was acquitted on appeal in 2014, but was later suspected that he had bribed witnesses to remain silent about the case.
Everything indicates that the current Prime Minister Draghi (74) is now becoming the new Italian President. He is a favorite among left-wing and moderate parliamentarians. But many parties would prefer Draghi, former President of the European Central Bank, to stay in his current post because he has reduced peace in the Italian administration and could lead to early elections.
The President is elected by the two chambers of parliament and representatives of the regions. 80-year-old Sergio Mattarella is swinging off after seven years, the votes on his successor will start on Monday, January 24. That procedure may take a few days to complete.
Berlusconi: loved, hated and untouchable: