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Berlusconi plots Forza Italia relaunch from hospital bed

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is planning to relaunch his political party, Forza Italia, when he comes out of hospital on July 5th, according to reports in the Italian media.

Berlusconi plots Forza Italia relaunch from hospital bed
Silvio Berlusconi is reportedly hoping to relaunch his political party, Forza Italia. Photo: Alberto Solaro/AFP

The 80-year-old billionaire underwent open heart surgery to replace his aortic valve after sustaining a heart attack earlier this month, but is showing no signs of slowing down.

Indeed, during his time in hospital he has been visited by a never-ending trail of political allies with whom he has discussed his idea to relaunch Forza Italia, Corriere della Sera reported.

“I've just spent a few hours with him and I'm amazed he has so much strength and energy, just one week after the operation,” Adriano Galliani, the CEO of Berlusconi's A.C Milan football club told the paper.

The ex-prime minister is believed to be working on a 15-point programme to relaunch Forza Italia and wants to hold a party conference as early as this autumn. The party has performed disastrously at local, regional and European elections since 2013, when it became a branch of the People of Freedom party (Pdl).

It is suggested that the 47-year-old president of Liguria, Giovanni Toti, could be given a leading role in the new-look Forza Italia.

But in spite of the media mogul's energy and enthusiasm, his children are reportedly eager to see him retire from political life and Berlusconi's medics at Milan's San Raffaele hospital have also warned against him doing too much too soon.

“He needs to rest,” said Berlusconi's personal doctor, Alberto Zangrillo. “The operation really took it out of him and he is in a lot of pain.”

Berlusconi is not expected to leave hospital before July 5th, during which time he may even be visited by his long-term friend and political ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin

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ITALIAN ELECTIONS

Doubts rise over ‘loose cannon’ Salvini after Italy’s election

Italian anti-immigrant leader Matteo Salvini was disappointed on Monday at his party's result in general elections but pledged to work with Giorgia Meloni, who triumphed, to form a government.

Doubts rise over 'loose cannon' Salvini after Italy's election

Whether Salvini would keep his word – or survive politically long enough to do so – was not clear, after his anti-immigrant League party dropped below the 10 percent threshold at Sunday’s vote.

This was a sharp decrease after the party swept to office with 17 percent of the vote in 2018 – since when it has been eclipsed by Meloni’s post-fascist Brothers of Italy.

EXPLAINED: What will a far-right government mean for Italy?

A glum Salvini, who has clashed with Meloni on a range of policies, not least her stance on Russia and the war in Ukraine, told reporters that winning just nine percent had been a blow.

It was “not a number I wanted or worked for”, he said.

Salvini added that he had “gone to bed fairly pissed off but woke up ready to go” and was now “looking on the bright side”.

Meloni “was good. We will work together for a long time”, he promised.

Leader of Italy's liberal-conservative party Forza Italia, Silvio Berlusconi, leader of Italy's conservative party Brothers of Italy, Giorgia Meloni and leader of Italy's far-right League party, Matteo Salvini acknowledge supporters at the end of a joint rally against the government on October 19, 2019 in Rome.

Italy’s right-wing coalition, consisting of Meloni’s Brothers of Italy, Salvini’s League and Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, has promised to slash taxes and put ‘Italians first’. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

The League may now have to battle to ensure its priorities are not sidelined in Meloni’s government programme, analysts said.

And while ex-interior minister Salvini has repeatedly said he wants his former job back, it is looking increasingly unlikely to happen.

“It won’t be an easy relationship. It’s likely that (Salvini) will be given a more marginal role in the government than he wants,” Sofia Ventura, political sciences professor at Bologna University, told the foreign press association in Rome.

“The result… throws into question Matteo Salvini’s leadership” of his own party, she said, adding that there were those within the League who thought they would be better off without the “loose cannon”.

READ ALSO: Meloni, Salvini, Berlusconi: The key figures in Italy’s likely new government

He said Meloni had benefited from being the only leader to stay outside the coalition formed by Prime Minister Mario Draghi in February 2021.

For the League, being part of that administration “was not easy”, he said, but insisted “I would do it again.”

‘Dangerous when cornered’

Meloni secured around 26 percent of the vote in Sunday’s poll, putting her on course to become the first woman to serve as Italian prime minister.

She campaigned as part of a coalition including Salvini’s League and ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, which won around eight percent.

Italian politics is notoriously unstable, with nearly 70 governments since 1946, and there were concerns disagreements with Salvini may precipitate a fresh crisis.

Lorenzo Pregliasco, co-founder of the YouTrend polling site, said Italian party leaders proved “dangerous” when they felt cornered.

The League head “might not create any problems in the short term” but “watch out for the Salvini factor, if he survives politically as a leader”.

Salvini however said that after years of unwieldy coalitions, Italy finally had “a government chosen by its citizens, with a clear majority” in both houses of parliament.

And he hoped it could “go for at least five years straight, without changes, without upheavals, focusing on things to do”.

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