Rome

Berlusconi reaches deal with League, ready to be Economy Min

Media magnate may let Alfano be premier if centre right win

Berlusconi reaches deal with League, ready to be Economy Min

Rome, January 7 - Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi announced Monday that he has reached a deal for his People of Freedom (PdL) party to resume its alliance with the Northern League and said he may be economy minister, not prime minister, if his centre-right bloc wins next month's Italian elections. In exchange, the PdL is backing League leader Roberto Maroni's bid to become governor of Lombardy, the region around Milan. Maroni recently told Berlusconi that an alliance would not be possible if the media magnate were to run for a fourth term at the helm of government. "Habemus papam," Berlusconi told RTL radio using the Latin statement pronounced upon the announcement of a new pope. "Tonight at 1.30 an agreement was signed between us and the Northern League. "Roberto Maroni will be the candidate in Lombardy and I will be the leader of the moderates (at national level). The premier will be decided if we win". Berlusconi added that a possibility would be for PdL Secretary Angelino Alfano to be premier and he to be economy minister if the centre right overturns the centre left's big lead in the polls and prevails next month. The PdL and the League's long-standing alliance ended after Berlusconi's third government collapsed in November 2011, when Italy's debt crisis forced the 76-year-old to resign from office. The League were staunch opponents of Premier Mario Monti's emergency technocrat government from the time it took over power. The PdL, meanwhile, backed it until last month. Although it has recovered recently, the PdL is polling at under 20%, compared to over 30 for the main centre-left Democratic Party, and had little chance of winning the elections without the support of the League.

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