Berlusconi opens centre-right election campaign

'30 days left to fight' says ex-premier

Berlusconi opens centre-right election campaign

Rome, January 25 - Ex-premier and People of Freedom (PdL) leader Silvio Berlusconi officially opened the centre-right coalition's election campaign on Friday at a party convention in Rome. ''We are gathered here for the first time with 30 days left to fight for a result that would allow us to spare the country an illiberal future,'' Berlusconi told PdL candidates in Italy's upcoming general elections on February 24 and 25. The coalition - captained by the PdL and also including the regionalist Northern League - held all the right cards for victory, added the three-time premier and media magnate who is leading its election campaign. He asked candidates to bear in mind three things during their campaign: the achievements of his last government, which ran from 2008 to 2011, and of his previous government in 2001-2006, the events of November 2011 when he was forced out of office to make way for the technocrat government of Mario Monti, and the centre-right's programme in comparison with that of the centre left. The centre right is currently trailing its centre-left rivals with 26.6% to 34.1% according to a Friday poll. Other main contenders are the populist Five Star Movement of comedian Beppe Grillo and a smaller centrist formation led by outgoing Premier Mario Monti.

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