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Rejuvenated Berlusconi lays out vote platform, eyes victory in Italy

Rejuvenated Berlusconi lays out vote platform, eyes victory in Italy
From Reuters - September 17, 2017

ROME (Reuters) - Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, marking a formal return to Italys political stage, laid out his policy priorities on Sunday for the forthcoming election, portraying himself as a pro-European moderate.

Speaking at a meeting of his Forza Italia (Go Italy) party, Berlusconi said he wanted to lead the group into the national ballot, which is expected by next March, promising hefty tax cuts if the center-right regained power.

Subsumed by sex scandals and legal woes, Berlusconi largely vanished from politics after being ousted from power in 2011.

But he has emerged from the shadows this year and Forza Italia, with its traditional rightist allies the Northern League and Brothers of Italy, have combined backing of some 35 percent, according to polls, making them the largest single bloc.

We predict a great victory for the center-right, said Berlusconi, 81, looking thin and fit during a speech near Rome that effectively launched the Forza Italia election campaign.

While his allies have repeatedly denounced the European Union, Berlusconi said he wanted more Europe, not less, calling for common defense, foreign, industrial and fiscal policies.

I do not think we can leave the euro, he said, further underscoring how the anti-euro rhetoric once heard from many Italian parties is receding as the vote nears.

Berlusconi, who had open heart surgery last year, cannot run for office due to a 2013 tax fraud conviction. But he hopes the European Court of Human Rights overturns this ban when it reviews his case in November.

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