Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Monday he was considering a political comeback for elections expected in March, but that the decision depended on who his centre-left adversaries selected as their main candidate.
A centre-left primary contest on Sunday left Democratic Party (PD) leader Pier Luigi Bersani, 61, ahead of his younger rival Matteo Renzi before a final runoff on December 2, thanks mainly to his strong support among traditional PD voters.
Renzi, the 37 year-old mayor of Florence who has run as a moderniser, is mistrusted by many on the left of the PD but has wider appeal among the broader electorate. A Renzi victory is widely seen as a deterrent to a Berlusconi comeback. In the latest of several switches of position, Berlusconi, who has previously ruled out running, said Italy needed a complete transformation following mounting popular disgust with traditional politics.
"I think that it's right for someone who had the honour of leading the Italian government for almost 10 years to reflect on the way to achieve this modernisation of Italy, this liberal revolution," he said, in an interview with his own Canale 5 television. Berlusconi said he would decide what to do depending on whether the left's candidate turned out to be Renzi or former communist Bersani. "With Renzi, Italy could have a Social Democratic party like other countries such as Germany and England have," he said.