Giovanni Toti said that he was “certain that Berlusconi will be a candidate,” in a statement published on the Forza Italia party website.
Berlusconi, three-time prime minister, was thrown out of the Italian Senate last year following a tax fraud conviction. The 77-year-old’s age saves him from prison and he is due to do community service for the crime, while he has had to hand over his passport and has in recent months been prevented from travelling to other EU countries.
But despite his legal woes, Berlusconi is reportedly set to return to the political stage this May when Europeans vote for their new representatives.
“Berlusconi has led Forza Italia in all elections. I think that it will be the same this time. Europe is living in a great period of change and all the national delegations should make their contribution,” Toti said.
However, as part of Berlusconi’s conviction he is banned from running in elections for the next six years.
Addressing this flaw in Forza Italia’s plan, the billionaire’s advisor said he considered it “a great injury to the right to representation of moderate Italians if Berlusconi cannot be a candidate.”
At the end of last year Italian media speculated that Berlusconi could instead take advantage of the EU’s rule that allows citizens to be a candidate in any member state. Bulgaria was seen as the most likely option for the media tycoon, owing to his close relationship with the country’s former prime minister.