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Berlusconi reiterates call for May general election

Ex-premier hopeful of standing in European elections

10 January, 19:31
Berlusconi reiterates call for May general election (see related stories on political situation) (ANSA) - Rome, January 10 - Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi on Friday reiterated his call for Italy to hold an early general election on May 25, the day the country is already set to go to the polls for European elections.

The 77-year-old media magnate has been calling for snap elections since his centre-right Forza Italia (FI) party withdrew its support for Premier Enrico Letta's left-right coalition government in November.

FI joined the opposition shortly before the Senate voted to eject him from parliament, with the support of Letta's centre-left Democratic Party (PD), after the supreme court upheld a tax-fraud conviction against him, making it definitive.

The government survived thanks to the support of the New Centre Right (NCD), a small splinter group that broke with Berlusconi over his bid to sink Letta.

"We are aiming for election day (combining national and European votes) on May 25 and we'll win," Berlusconi told a meeting of local FI officials.

The three-time premier is ineligible to stand in elections after the the tax-fraud conviction, which he says is part of a two-decade long campaign of persecution by left-wing elements in the judiciary who want to eliminate him from the political arena.

Berlusconi added that he was hopeful the tax-fraud verdict will be overturned and he will be able to top FI's lists of candidates in every Italian region at the European elections. The billionaire is appealing to the European Court of Human Rights and seeking to have the tax-fraud case reopened in Brescia.