Italian media have reported that Berlusconi was particularly irked by Monti’s Cabinet approval, earlier in the week, of a measure that would ban from running for office anyone sentenced to more than two years in prison after convictions are definitely upheld in cases of terrorism, organized crime and offenses in public office, including corruption.
Berlusconi’s tax fraud conviction in October carries a four-year sentence, but the case could be dismissed if the statute of limitations runs out before all appeals are exhausted.
Critics have contended that Berlusconi expended much of his efforts as premier to push through legislation tailor-made to help him in his legal woes, and any new term in the premier’s office could offer a similar opportunity.
Since his last election bid, in 2008, Berlusconi has lost the key support of its biggest coalition partner, the Northern League, which refused to support Monti’s government. But the League, whose founder, Umberto Bossi, has been tarnished by scandal, hasn’t ruled out forging a new election alliance with Berlusconi.