Despite some previous reports to the contrary, Silvio Berlusconi has said he will be “stepping aside” from front-line politics.The statement was made in an interview with the Financial Times, his first interview since resigning last November.
The 75-year-old lothario seems to have used the interview to further his new image as respectable elder statesman (something Reuters picked up on today), offering calm, mature support for current Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti.
However, there’s still room for the old Silvio. He shows off a bruise he got playing ice hockey with Vladimir Putin and brags to the FT:
“I still have strong popular backing, almost twice as much as my colleagues Merkel and Sarkozy … In opinion polls, I personally have 36 per cent support. If I walk out in the street I stop the traffic. I am a public danger and I cannot go out to do the shopping!”
Berlusconi also finds time to rail against his old enemy, foreign media, who he blames for costing him office — though given that the FT once told him “In God’s name, go!”, his choice of forum seems strange.
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