Italy's Berlusconi mulls European Parliament bid

Rome (AFP) –


Italy's tireless former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said Thursday he is considering running for election as a member of the European Parliament next year.

The 82-year old media magnate said he has some reservations, because "not being able continuously to take part in the life of the European Parliament would not be fair to those who vote for me".

"But it is very likely that in the end I'll agree to run," he said at a literary event in Rome.

The European Parliament election will be held in May, when traditional parties face major challenges from far-right and eurosceptic populists.

After dominating Italian politics for nearly two decades, Berlusconi was forced out of parliament in 2013 after a tax fraud conviction.

But he has refused to throw in the towel, continuing to head his centre-right Forza Italia (Go Italy) party.

On Thursday he called on the head of Italy's far-right League party, deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini, to break his alliance with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and join forces once more with the centre right.

If he did so, 45-year old Salvini could be prime minister, Berlusconi said.

Media magnate Berlusconi was last ousted from power in November 2011 following a parliamentary revolt against his increasingly scandal-tainted rule and a wave of panic on the financial markets that pushed Italy to the brink of default.

He is to go on trial next year for allegedly paying a witness to give false testimony about his notoriously hedonistic soirees.

The case dates to 2008-09 when the billionaire hosted escort girls at his so-called bunga-bunga parties.

The onetime cruise ship crooner who has served as prime minister three times and once owned the AC Milan football club, has had a tumultuous love affair with Italian politics, clinching his first election victory in 1994.