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Berlusconi says Forza Italia should welcome 'new resources'

Says revamped party won't have single coordinator

14 January, 15:38
Berlusconi says Forza Italia should welcome 'new resources' (see related stories on Berlusconi) (ANSA) - Rome, January 14 - Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi said Tuesday that his Forza Italia (FI) party should be broad-based and welcome new "resources" from outside.

The 77-year-old billionaire has vowed to keep leading Italy's centre right after he was ejected from parliament in November following a definitive tax-fraud conviction.

Shortly before that he dissolved his old party, the People of Freedom (PdL), and re-created a new one under the name of the group he used to start his political career two decades ago, saying it was necessary to recreate the spirit of that time.

He has said the revived Forza Italia should have greater involvement from youngsters and business people. "We shouldn't be afraid to open the doors of our movement to the new resources that look into it and want to make their contribution to our revival in a time of great transformation for Italian politics," Berlusconi said in a statement.

"Our victories of the future, like those of the past, will depend on Forza Italia's ability to remain an open movement, determined to take the centre right back to government". The three-time premier said that the new party would not have a central coordinator because it wants to be deeply eradicated throughout the country.

FI withdrew its support for Premier Enrico Letta's left-right coalition government shortly before Berlusconi was ejected from parliament.

The media magnate has been calling for a fresh vote, saying general elections should be staged in May to coincide with already scheduled European elections and save public money. Letta's government survived FI's defection thanks to the support of the New Centre Right (NCD), a small splinter group that broke with Berlusconi over his bid to sink Letta.

The ex-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 has said 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.