Berlusconi pact could destabilise Italian coalition

City A.M. Reporter
ITALY’S former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi yesterday announced an alliance with the right-wing Northern League party that could prevent the centre-left forming a stable government after next month’s elections.

Berlusconi has been striving for weeks to seal the deal with his estranged former allies to strengthen the centre-right bloc, under a strategy to confound the centre-left government expected to emerge from a 24-25 February election.

The League had previously refused a pact because of rank-and-file opposition to the scandal-plagued Berlusconi being candidate for Prime Minister. The media magnate was driven from office a year ago at the height of Italy’s economic crisis after he was charged with having sex with an underage prostitute.

In an interview on Italian radio station RTL, Berlusconi left the issue of the premiership open in a future centre-right government. He said he would prefer to be the economy minister.

The centre-left led by Pier Luigi Bersani has been ahead in opinion polls for months. The latest survey, published on Sunday, said it would win between 38 and 39 per cent.

The elections have been sparked by the departure of caretaker Prime Minister Mario Monti.