(ANSA) - Rome, September 25 - Former premier Silvio Berlusconi of the centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party on Tuesday denied that his party was at risk of imploding as a result of the corruption scandal that has engulfed the PdL caucus in the Lazio regional council. "No, we are not in disarray," Berlusconi told journalists on arriving in Rome by train from Milan. The party, long in the grips of internal splits, was shaken earlier this month by the news that Franco Fiorito, the former regional PdL party whip, had been placed under investigation for suspected embezzlement of party funds. However in a note released later in the day Berlusconi said that responsibility for the scandal lies with the leaders of all political parties. "All the groups in the Lazio regional council were jointly responsible: majority and opposition," he said. The former premier added that now "it is necessary to repeal the system of party and caucus financing as we have known it" and called for the implementation of "independent controls". He concluded by committing himself to a process of recovery "without uncertainties": "Strong renewal is needed to return to a form of politics that is a service rather than a source of individual gain," he said. In an interview with the Italian version of The Huffington Post, in its first edition on Tuesday, Berlusconi said that he would be prepared to support a candidate other than himself to build a new centre right ahead of parliamentary elections next year.
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di Giovanni Pastore