Allies of Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi are pushing for him to make another political comeback.
Even his party’s new leader Angelino Alfano says he wants Berlusconi to run for office again next year, and believes he will.
According to the Corriere della Sera newspaper the decision’s been taken: the ex-PM who resigned last year will stand after Mario Monti steps down.
Gaetano Quagliariello from Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PDL) party said the former leader had never left the scene and was best placed to unify the various factions in the centre-right.
The president of the centre-left Democratic Party Rosy Bindi said Italians would welcome the news if it were confirmed – but her side was ready to beat him.
In recent months polls have given her party a significant lead, suggesting it would win the election expected next March.
But the same surveys also highlight a vacuum in Italian politics. Established figures are failing to inspire; unpopular austerity measures are boosting support for anti-establishment parties.
The rating for Berlusconi’s party multiplies by three with him at its head. Corriere della Sera says the PDL without Berlusconi would only get 10 per cent support, rising to 30 percent should he run for prime minister.
Berlusconi, who will be 76 when elections are due in 2013, still faces court cases including charges of abuse of office and paying for sex with an underage prostitute.