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Northern League rules out Berlusconi being premier

Maroni backs Tremonti to be premier after deal with PdL

07 January, 16:41
Northern League rules out Berlusconi being premier (ANSA) - Milan, January 7 - Northern League leader Roberto Maroni on Monday ruled out the possibility that Silvio Berlusconi will be premier if the centre right wins next month's general elections after signing a deal to revive his party's alliance with the ex-premier's People of Freedom (PdL) party. Maroni said it was "explicitly stated" that Berlusconi would not be PM.

Earlier on Monday Berlusconi said he may be economy minister, not prime minister, if his centre-right bloc wins.

The 76-year-old media magnate said the issue of who will be premier in the case of a centre-right victory would be addressed after the elections.

He added that PdL Secretary Angelino Alfano was a possibility.

However, Maroni, who has won the PdL's backing for his bid to become governor of Lombardy thanks to the deal, said he was in favour of former economy minister Giulio Tremonti being at the helm of government. Tremonti recently left the PdL to form his own party that has strong ties with the League. "Berlusconi is the head of the coalition and no premier candidate is named (in the agreement), but it says explicitly that it will not be Berlusconi," said Maroni. "Given that Berlusconi has pointed to Alfano, I'll allow myself to put forward Tremonti as a candidate. "We are very satisfied with the agreement as we can say that we'll probably win in Lombardy with the deal". He added that the centre right would work to create a "macro-region" in northern Italy after the elections.

The League has long battled for greater autonomy for the wealthier richer regions of northern Italy. It also takes hard-line stances against immigration and several senior figures have been criticised for making allegedly xenophobic statements in the past.