EU Parliament chief, Berlusconi ally Antonio Tajani announces candidacy for Italian premiership | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 02.03.2018
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EU Parliament chief, Berlusconi ally Antonio Tajani announces candidacy for Italian premiership

Silvio Berlusconi's old acquaintance said he would be willing to leave his post at the European Parliament for the prime minister's office. The two have known each other since Tajani co-founded Forza Italia in 1994.

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said Thursday that, should Italian conservatives win in the upcoming general elections, he would be open to serve as Italy's next prime minister.

"I thank President Berlusconi for his show of esteem towards me. Tonight I told him about my availability to serve Italy," he wrote on Twitter.

Tajani is a close ally of three-time Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The two politicians have been linked since Berlusconi first entered politics in the early 1990s.

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Berlusconi himself is legally barred from holding elected office due to a fraud conviction and he had previously indicated that Tajani would be his favored choice for the PM post, if his side is victorious in the elections.

"I am pleased to be able to announce the good news that the current president of the European Parliament has made up his mind and indicated that he is willing to lead a future center-right government," Berlusconi said on Canale 5, one of his TV networks.

"I know it's a shame to take Antonio Tajani away from Europe, but it's in the best interest of Italy," Berlusconi added.

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Antonio Tajani has a two-decade-long career in EU institutions. He was first elected to the EU parliament in 1994 and has previously served as European commissioner for transport and industry. He became president of the EU parliament in January 2017, when Martin Schulz left the post to return to national German politics.

Although Tajani was one of the founding members of Berlusconi's political party Forza Italia and served as the ex-prime minister's spokesman from 1994 to 1995, he has never held public office in his home country.

Italians will head to the polls on March 4 to elect representatives in the lower house Chamber of Deputies and upper house Senate, in the midst of a fragmented political landscape and with a complicated new electoral law in place that mixes proportional representation with first-past-the-post.

jcg/rc (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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