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Berlusconi 'prepared not to run' says PdL secretary

Ex-premier would take step back 'to save Italy from the left'

08 October, 20:16
Berlusconi 'prepared not to run' says PdL secretary (ANSA) - Rome, October 8 - Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi is prepared not to run in elections "in order to unite the center-right", the secretary of his People of Freedom (PdL) party said Monday. "In order not to surrender Italy to the left, we need a gesture of vision and generosity from the other leaders of the center-right," said Angelino Alfano en route to a meeting with Enrico Letta, a heavyweight in the center-left Democratic Party (PD) and ex-Berlusconi ally Pierferdinando Casini, leader of the Union of the Centre (UDC). "I hope that the facts come to show that what Alfano says is true, but Italians are used to Berlusconi changing his mind," said Casini. Since Mario Monti replaced Berlusconi in November, the PdL has criticized the government of technocrats for its tough austerity measures, and party leaders have repeatedly said that Berlusconi would run again.

But the PdL's tone has softened as of late, with some members of the party calling for an overhaul of the party structure and image following a raft of corruption cases, culminating in last week's arrest of former PdL Lazio caucus leader Franco Fiorito.

Polls currently give the center-left PD a clear lead over the centre-right PdL with comedian Beppe Grillo's Five Star protest movement third.

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