Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi gestures during EPP European People's Party meeting in Fiuggi, Italy, September 17, 2017 (Photo: Reuters)
Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Tuesday he and the leader of the Northern League had agreed a pact to choose the candidate to head an eventual centre-right governing coalition, a newspaper reported.
Italy is expected to hold a national election by March that polls suggest the centre-right would win, though it would be unlikely to obtain a working majority of seats in parliament.
Berlusconi was banned from running for office in 2013 due to a tax fraud conviction, but is hoping the European Court of Human Rights will overturn this when it reviews his case in November.
He told the Corriere della Sera newspaper in an interview that he and Matteo Salvini agreed that "whichever party of the centre-right gets more votes" would propose a prime minister for the centre-right.
According to a poll released by the EMG Aqua agency on Monday, the Northern League is running at 14.8 percent, Berlusconi's Forza Italia (Go Italy!) at 12.2 percent and the third centre-right party, Brothers of Italy, at 5.0 percent.
That makes the trio largest single bloc with about 32 percent.
Berlusconi told the newspaper he was convinced Forza Italia would get the most votes. He did not say who the party's candidate would be if he could not run.
According to the same poll, the governing centre-left Democratic Party (PD) has about 27 percent and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement about 28 percent.