(photo credit: Reuters)
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will not run for re-election when his current term runs out in 2013 and on Wednesday named his likely successor, Sicilian Justice Minister Angelino Alfano.
Berlusconi, whose political career has been marked by a series of scandals, is currently facing several legal battles, including "Rubygate," the accusation that he paid for sex with an underage Moroccan dancer.
Berlusconi's sex trial opened and immediately adjourned
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In confidential remarks to foreign journalists Tuesday that were leaked to Italian news agencies, the 74-year-old premier said magistrates had declared war on the government and represented a "cancer" on the Italian system.
He rejected all the charges against him and pledged to see out his
remaining term in office until 2013. After that, he said he may not seek
re-election but could remain as a sort of behind-the-scenes father
figure on the center-right.
His spokesman Paulo Banaiuti was quoted by Italian news agency ANSA as
saying the remarks were merely hypothetical and did not reflect any
Berlusconi's attacks on the magistrates and the bill on trials voted in
parliament coincides with the launch of several cases against the prime
The trials were previously suspended by a measure passed by his
government which allowed him to claim that his official duties meant he
did not have enough time to prepare his defense and could therefore
claim immunity from trial while in office.
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The constitutional court ruled against that measure in January,
prompting magistrates to re-open fraud and bribery trials and bring the
prostitution case to court.
Following approval in the lower house, the measure will go to the
Senate, where Berlusconi's center-right government has a majority, for
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