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Berlusconi says 'forced' to lead centre right again

21/12/2012

Will rally forces to beat left, ex-premier says

Berlusconi says 'forced' to lead centre right again

Rome, December 21 - Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi on Friday said he had been forced to re-enter the political fray and take on the job of uniting Italy's centre right to defeat the left. The media magnate repeated that he would have been willing to let outgoing Premier Mario Monti play that role "but I didn't even get one phone call from Monti". Speaking on Italian radio in his sixth media foray in as many days, Berlusconi reiterated his claim that Monti's technocratic government had "taken orders" from northern European countries led by Germany and that the spread between Italian and German bonds, a gauge of market confidence in Italy's ability to pay down its huge debt, was not affected by government action. Berlusconi resigned in November 2011 with the spread above 550 points and Italy on the brink of a Greece-style crisis. He recently backtracked on a pledge to stay out of front-line politics, saying the struggling centre right had not found anyone capable of wooing back enough voters to win a general election set for late February. In Friday's radio interview, Berlusconi added that centrist leader Pier Ferdinando Casini and affiliated "little parties" set to back Monti would "let the left in" unless he stood. He voiced confidence of luring back voters who have deserted him amid sex and corruption scandals and said a third of his election candidates would be women.