Path Clear for Berlusconi in Italy

Election set for April 13-14; third term as PM likely for media titan
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2008 12:39 PM CST
PD, Democratic Party leader Walter Veltroni walks past a saluting Courassier presidential guard after meeting with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano at the Quirinale Presidential Palace in Rome Tuesday,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Italians will elect a new parliament April 13-14, and if polls are correct, Der Spiegel reports that Silvio Berlusconi will return to office only 20 months after his last defeat. Immediately after today's announced poll date, PM Romano Prodi announced he won't stand, ceding leadership of the center-left to Rome mayor Walter Veltroni. "Someone had to set the example," Prodi said.

The rest of the world might look on in wonderment or confusion—"He won't strengthen Italy," editorialized one German paper, "but he is sure to weaken Europe"—but Italians seem eager to return Berlusconi to power. Moreover, the left is splintering: Unlike the center-right—which Berlusconi leads uncontested—Communists, Greens, and social democrats are feuding over how best to stop "Il Cavaliere."