Rome

Berlusconi 'will not stand for premiership', League says

Northern League pledges to keep 75% of taxes in event of victory

Berlusconi 'will not stand for premiership', League says

Rome, January 8 - Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, leader of the centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party, has pledged not to run for a fourth term in office in upcoming general elections, the party's principal electoral ally said Tuesday. ''Berlusconi has put in writing that he will not stand as a candidate for the presidency of the council of ministers,'' regionalist Northern League secretary Roberto Maroni told '24 Mattino', an all-news radio channel owned by Italian business daily Il Sole 24 Ore. ''It is an act of generosity on his part, it is written into the agreement, of course,'' he added in reference to Monday's announcement by Berlusconi of a new alliance with his former coalition partner. Part of that deal might entail him passing up the role of premier and becoming economy minister if they win, the ex-head of government and media mogul said. Maroni also said that in the event of election victory by the PdL-Northern League alliance 75% of taxes would remain in northern regions. Italians are due to go to the polls to elect a new parliament at the end of February. Currently the centre-left Democratic Party (Pd) is leading the polls, although the PdL has recently begun to gain ground lost in a series of local government corruption scandals last year. Technocrat premier Mario Monti, who was brought in to replace Berlusconi at the peak of the euro crisis in November 2011, has also decided to throw his hat into the ring with support from smaller centraist parties. Monti is currently polling third, a shade ahead of ex-comic Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which has lost ground.

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