It was always a question of when and not if – but now it is official. Silvio Berlusconi is head of Italy’s powerful new centre-right political bloc.
The “People of Freedom” party formally unites the prime minister’s Forza Italia movement with Gianfranco Fini’s right-wing National Alliance. Emerging victorious, Berlusconi’s inevitable coronation did not make it any less pleasurable for the Italian premier. Addressing the new party faithful in Rome, he said: ‘‘Recent experience has shown that the head of government should have more powers, which are not presently in place.’‘ While the new marriage merges two out of the three main parties on Italy’s right, Berlusconi also declared that the economy remained his top priority. ‘‘The first mission of this government will be to steer Italy out of this current financial crisis,’‘ he said. With European elections on the horizon, supporters of the new conservative force are hopeful it will help strengthen their power base in the EU parliament. However, Italy’s other main right-wing party, the Northern League, decided not to participate in the alliance.