Silvio Berlusconi is back: Ex-PM confirms he'll run again


Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi has been sentenced to four years in prison for tax fraud, but legal experts told Bloomberg that the 76-year-old is unlikely to see the inside of a jail cell.

Silvio Berlusconi knows how much Italy needs him. Even if Italy doesn't.

So, generously, the 76-year-old billionaire and three-time prime minister has decided not to deny his country the prospect of another term under his leadership.

Berlusconi ended months of speculation and flip-flopping today and announced that yes, he would be running for office again, Reuters reported.

"I'm returning sadly to public service," he told reporters, in the middle of watching a practice session at the soccer club he owns, AC Milan. (The comments were broadcast on the news network he also owns, TGCOM24.)

"And again I'm doing it out of a sense of responsibility."

Earlier this week, Berlusconi claimed he had been "beseiged by requests" from his People of Liberty (PDL) party to return to politics since he resigned as prime minister in November last year.

Everyone in the PDL agreed that they needed a leader "like Berlusconi in 1994," said – er – Berlusconi today, according to the BBC, but "there wasn't one," he continued.

"The situation today is much worse than it was a year ago when I left the government out of a sense of responsibility and a love for my country," Berlusconi said in a statement on Thursday. "I cannot let my country fall into a recessive spiral without end."

More from GlobalPost: The best – and worst – of Berlusconi

In another selfless move, Berlusconi said today that his party would agree to pass legislation proposed by the technocrat government of his successor, Mario Monti, Reuters reported. Two days ago, the PDL withdrew its support for Monti's government, thereby threatening to trigger a snap election.

Monti has already said that he doesn't plan to run in the next election, now expected in March, but he has offered to step in if there's no clear winner. As GlobalPost reported last month, one recent poll named him Italians’ most popular choice for prime minister.

In the year since Berlusconi was forced to resign over Italy's disastrous finances, Monti "has done much to restore international confidence in his country," GlobalPost's correspondent wrote.

Berlusconi, meanwhile, has been convicted of tax fraud, sentenced to jail and banned from public office (he's appealing). He is also on trial for allegedly hiring an underage prostitute for sex, a charge he strenuously denies.

"I'm going to race to win," he told the press today.