Rome, October 29 - Angelino Alfano, the secretary of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party, officially threw his hat in the race for Italian premier on Monday. "I confirm that the PdL will hold primaries on December 16 and I've decided to run," said Alfano. The PdL secretary, 42, is favourite to pick up the 76-year-old Berlusconi's mantle in with the declared aim of keeping the centre left out of power. The main centre-left force, the Democratic Party (PD), is currently polling around 27% to the PdL's third-placed 15% with comic Beppe Grillo's Five-Star anti-establishment movement second with 20%. Many pundits see PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani, 61, as likely to carry on from technocrat Mario Monti who took over from Berlusconi at the height of the euro crisis almost a year ago. But Bersani is facing a strong challenge in next month's PD primaries from Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi, 37. One of Alfano's contender's within the PdL party is Alessandra Mussolini, the granddaughter of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, who confirmed she would run in primaries after Berlusconi said he would not, shortly before he was convicted of tax fraud on Friday.