Rome

Berlusconi prefers to be economy minister than premier

Partner Northern League does not want ex-premier to head govt

Berlusconi prefers to be economy minister than premier

Rome, January 14 - Silvio Berlusconi said Monday that he prefers to be economy minister, rather than premier, if the centre right wins next month's general election in Italy amid controversy about the coalition's failure to say who their candidate to head the government is. The uncertainty comes after Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party agreed a pact to revive its long-standing alliance with the Northern League earlier this month. League leader Roberto Maroni made it a condition of the agreement that Berlusconi will not take the helm of an Italian government for the fourth time. The leaders said they will name a premier after the elections if the centre right prevails. At the weekend, however, the PdL unveiled a campaign logo that featured the words 'Berlusconi President'. This sparked speculation that in reality the 76-year-old media magnate does want to lead another government, although Maroni said it referred to the fact that Berlusconi is president of the PdL. Berlusconi moved to deflate the polemics on Monday when he said that the position of premier is not so appealing to him as it does not carry real power. "I'd prefer to be economy minister because that's where you have to work on the great machinery on the state," Berlusconi said in a telephone call to a programme on his Mediaset TV network.

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