Berlusconi tips minister as successor

AFP , Thursday 14 Apr 2011

Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi makes off-record announcement that he does not intend to run next elections, Justice Minister Angelo Alfano likely to succeed

Italy's Justice Minister Angelino Alfano sits at the lower house of parliament in Rome, (Reuters).

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is unlikely to seek reelection at the next elections in 2013 and has named a possible successor as incumbent Justice Minister Angelo Alfano.

During a private dinner on Tuesday evening with foreign journalists, Berlusconi, 74, told reporters off the record that he would not be standing as a candidate in the next elections -- news that was then leaked by the press.

"I could head the list, but I don't want to have an operational role," the premier told a small group of foreign reporters, adding that the 40-year-old Sicilian justice minister could head up his People of Freedom Party.

Alfano enjoyed a legal coup on Wednesday when Italy's lower chamber voted in favour of his judicial reform bill, which critics have argued has been designed for the express purpose of saving Berlusconi from his legal woes.

The justice minister is also renowned for drawing up a bill which gave the premier temporary immunity from all trials, until it was partially overturned by Italy's constitutional court in January.

Berlusconi also said he has no intention of running for president, saying the post would be best filled by his right hand man Gianni Letta.

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