Berlusconi reconsidering decision not to stand

Confusion about whether centre-right PdL to hold primary

Berlusconi reconsidering decision not to stand

Rome, November 26 - Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi confirmed on Monday that he was contemplating another election bid, in the latest in a series of vacillations about whether he is withdrawing from Italian politics. The uncertainty has thrown his People of Freedom (PdL) party into turmoil as members still do not know whether a primary to select a premier candidate for next year's national elections will take place on December 16. PdL Secretary Angelino Alfano, who is one of six candidates set to run in the primary, has said the selection process will be redundant if Berlusconi decides to stand for a fourth term as Italian premier. "We are evaluating the situation. We will also see what happens with the other side," Berlusconi told one of his Mediaset TV channels on Monday, referring to the centre-left primaries. The centre-left candidate will be chosen next week in a runoff between Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani, 61, and 37-year-old Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi, the two candidates who came top in the first round of the primary on Sunday. Berlusconi said he hoped Renzi, who is presenting himself as a modernizer, becomes the centre-left candidate. The media magnate, who resigned as premier a year ago to make way for Premier Mario Monti's emergency administration when Italy's debt crisis threatened to spiral out of control, added that the party executive will decide about whether the PdL will have a primary. There has been speculation Berlusconi is thinking about relaunching his old centre-right party, Forza Italia, and abandoning its successor, the People of Freedom Party (PDL), which he co-founded in 2007. The PdL, the biggest party in parliament at the moment, has dropped to third in the opinion polls after a series of corruption scandals hitting top centre-right politicians in Rome and Milan. Berlusconi, meanwhile, was convicted in October of involvement in an off-shore tax evasion scheme at Mediaset, and he is on trial for allegedly paying for sex with an underage prostitute.

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