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Berlusconi Won't Stand as Italian PM Candidate

Silvio Berlusconi (file photo)
Former Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi says he has struck a deal with the Northern League to jointly run in next month's elections. But he will not stand as candidate for prime minister.

Berlusconi announced the alliance during an interview with Italian radio. Northern League leader Roberto Maroni later told a news conference that as part of the coalition deal Berlusconi will not stand as candidate for the top post.

Berlusconi's People of Freedom Party (PDL) has aligned with the Northern League in three previous coalition governments.

Recent opinion polls predicting the outcome of the February 24 vote show the PDL-Northern League bloc still trailing the center-left alliance, led by Pier Luigi Bersani.

Berlusconi has served in office three times, but was driven out in November 2011 for abuse of office and being charged with paying an underage woman for sex.