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Berlusconi mulls another bid for office

Dec. 6, 2012 at 10:05 AM
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ROME, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi hinted he may try for his old office again during next spring's national elections.

The Italian media mogul said he would retire from politics after he was forced to resign to make way for Prime Minister Mario Monti's emergency administration last year, when Italy's debt crisis threatened to spin out of control.

But Berlusconi, 76, said he was having a change of heart as he watches his center-right People of Freedom Party struggling in the opinion polls and beset with internal divisiveness, Italy's ANSA news agency reported Thursday.

Berlusconi said he was "besieged by requests from the party to announce as soon as possible my return to politics to guide" the People of Freedom Party after meeting with party officials Wednesday.

"Today the situation is worse than it was a year ago when I left the government out of a sense of responsibility and love for my country," he said. "Today Italy is on the verge of the abyss. ... There are a million more people unemployed, the national debt is increasing, spending power is collapsing and the tax burden is at intolerable levels."

If he chooses to run, Berlusconi would be seeking a fourth term as prime minister.

Berlusconi is currently on trial on abuse-of-power accusations for allegedly convincing police to release a Moroccan belly-dancer and underage prostitute after she was arrested, which he denies. He also is accused of having sex with her, a charge they both deny.

Berlusconi earlier was convicted on tax fraud charges and sentenced to four years in prison.

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