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Berlusconi tells Italy: 'You need me, and I always help people in need'

The flamboyant former prime minister is on a media blitz as he prepares his attempt to return to power for a fourth time, warning of civil war if Italy continues on its current course.

Silvio Berlusconi on RAI TV tonight.
Silvio Berlusconi on RAI TV tonight.
Image: Gregorio Borgia/AP/Press Association Images

ITALY’S INDEFATIGABLE FORMER prime minister Silvio Berlusconi appeared on television today for the third time in as many days to vow a return to political life.

“You need me, and I always help people in need,” Berlusconi, 76, said in a lengthy interview with Rai Uno ahead of elections expected in February.

The scandal-plagued billionaire, who was prime minister three times over the past two decades, said that if Italy continued on its present course “we’ll have three million unemployed, the government will have to raise taxes and we will find ourselves like Greece, on the brink of civil war”.

The flamboyant former premier renewed criticism of austerity measures implemented by Mario Monti, a technocrat who replaced him in November 2011 following a parliamentary revolt and a wave of financial market panic.

“The situation has deteriorated with the politics of austerity,” Berlusconi said on the evening talk show “Porta a Porta” hosted by a friend, Bruno Vespa.

Berlusconi, who announced his comeback bid earlier this month, said he did not think Italians were tired of him.

“We will prove it in the elections. I have received urgent calls to not let the situation deteriorate in the country I love,” he said.

The media magnate, owner of three private television stations, boasted that his TV appearances had boosted his People of Freedom Party’s standing by four percentage points, while admitting that there was “a long way to go”.

The party’s popularity has dipped to around 15 percent in opinion polls from nearly 38 percent when Berlusconi swept to power for a third time in 2008.

Centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani is tipped as the likely winner of the elections, possibly as early as February.

(c) AFP 2012.

Read: Monti to step down as Berlusconi announces fresh run

Images: 55 pictures of Silvio Berlusconi looking sad, glum, or generally displeased

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