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Berlusconi suggests he will stand in spring elections

Ex-premier 'besieged' with requests to run

06 December, 10:36
Berlusconi suggests he will stand in spring elections (ANSA) - Rome, December 6 - Silvio Berlusconi has suggested he will stand for a fourth term as Italian premier in next spring's national elections.

The media magnate said he would retire from front-line politics after being forced to resign from the helm of government to make way for Premier Mario Monti's emergency administration last year, when Italy's debt crisis threatened to spiral out of control.

But the 76-year-old has changed his mind several times in recent months after whether to return, with his centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party struggling in the opinion polls and ravaged by internal divisions.

Berlusconi said he was "besieged by requests from the party to announce as soon as possible my return to politics to guide the PdL" after a meeting with PdL top-brass on Wednesday.

"Today the situation is worse than it was a year ago when I left the government out of a sense of responsibility and love for my country," he said. "Today Italy is on the verge of the abyss. "The economy is in dire straits. There are a million more people unemployed, the national debt is increasing, spending power is collapsing and the tax burden is at intolerable levels.

"I cannot let the country fall into an endless recessive spiral". The PdL was meant to hold a primary on December 16 to choose its premier candidate but it is now accepted by almost everyone within the party that this will not happen.