Italy’s disgraced former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is plotting a political comeback in next month’s national elections, saying the move “would make everyone happy”.
Berlusconi, the 85-year-old leader of Forza Italia, said he would run as a senator in the ballot on 25 September. “That way everyone would be happy,” he told Rai radio. “I’ve received pressure [to do so] from many, even outside Forza Italia.”
His party is competing as part of an alliance led by Brothers of Italy, a party with neofascist origins, and which includes Matteo Salvini’s far-right League.
Antonio Tajani, Forza Italia’s deputy leader, told Corriere della Sera that every vote for the “moderate, trustworthy, liberal, pro-European” party was useful as it gave the trio “balance”.
The coalition is forecast to win the elections, possibly paving the way for Giorgia Meloni, the Brothers of Italy leader whose motto is “God, country and family”, to become the country’s first female prime minister.
In a stern video message this week directed at the international media, Meloni, who started out in politics as a member of the youth wing of the Italian Social Movement, a party set up by a minister in Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime and whose tricoloured flame forms part of the Brothers of Italy logo, said fascism had been confined to history and that she would not be a threat to democracy if victorious.
“The Italian right has handed fascism over to history for decades now, unambiguously condemning the suppression of democracy and the ignominious anti-Jewish laws,” she said.