Silvio Berlusconi has abandoned his hopes of running for Italy’s top job.
The former prime minister, is renowed for reversing his position, but says he is ready to drop plans to run in next year’s election as leader of the centre-right, and wants all moderates to unite to defeat the centre left.
Berlusconi’s comments have been warmly welcomed by one of his fiercest critics, Antonio Di Pietro, leader of the Italy of Values party: “It’s not too late to save Italy. If Berlusconi really retires from politics it’s a good thing. the first good thing he has done. Now we have the problem of rebuilding Italy.”
Angelo Alfano, the secretary of Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party, had already raised the prospect of Berlusconi stepping aside and the establishment of a broad alliance.
But his party remains deeply divided between those who back Berlusconi and others who favour Mario Monti’s government, and want to create a conventional European centre-right force.