Silvio Berlusconi has not had enough after 18 years in Italian politics. Upon the announcement that he would run for prime minister once more, Italian stocks turned negative and its bond yields immediately rose.
Berlusconi made it official on Saturday. Using social networking site Facebook, he posted he had been unable to find a suitable successor to run in next April's elections.
"It's not that we haven't looked," he wrote, "there isn't one."
Popularity polls indicate just 15 percent of the population supports Berlusconi's People of Freedom party. Berlusconi's advisers urged him not to run, but the party ultimately scrapped primaries to allow him to lead the 2013 ticket.
Reigning for a total of nine years, over the past 17, he has repeatedly been involved in scandals, including sexual misconduct and corruption allegations. In October, a court gave him a four year jail term for tax fraud, and, though the appeals process will keep him out of jail and may overturn the ruling, Berlusconi risks another sentence in a trial for allegedly having sex with an underage prostitute.
Still, Berlusconi enjoys the support of millions. He has won three of five elections since entering politics in 1994. Another victory will almost certainly be beyond him, but he may just garner enough support to deprive the center-left of a clear majority, giving him a say in the makeup of whatever government can be formed after the election.
'Spiral without an end'
Berlusconi will likely tap discontent towards the austerity policies of technocrat Prime Minister Mario Monti, whom he had supported in parliament for the past year.
"I cannot let my country fall into a recessive spiral without end," Berlusconi said in a statement on Wednesday. "It's not possible to go on like this. Today Italy is on the edge of an abyss: The economy is exhausted, a million more are unemployed, purchasing power has collapsed, tax pressure is rising to intolerable levels."
mkg/jlw (Reuters, AFP, dpa)