Berlusconi confirms: I will step down
Rome - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said in an interview published on Wednesday that he will not run for office at the next election and will step down by the end of the month.
"I won't run for office," Berlusconi told La Stampa newspaper after he announced he will step down once an economic reform law is approved.
Berlusconi said Angelino Alfano, the former justice minister and leader of his People of Freedom party, could replace him as candidate.
"As soon as the reforms are approved I will resign... The procedure will be complete by the end of the month," he said, adding: "I feel liberated."
Berlusconi has said he wants President Giorgio Napolitano to dissolve parliament and call early elections following his resignation but the political course will be in the hands of the head of state once he steps down.
There are a number of scenarios including an expansion of the current centre-right coalition, the formation of a national unity government or, failing other options, the dissolution of parliament and early elections.
"Seeing as there isn't another possible majority, I see elections for the beginning of February, but I won't be running," Berlusconi said.
"It's important to act fast: the sooner we act, the sooner we can get out of this infernal carousel, this unbelievable situation, with markets that push and squeeze," Berlusconi said.
"Now is Alfano's moment. He will be our candidate for premier, he's very good. Better than one might think, and everyone has accepted his leadership," he said.
Asked what he would do in the future, Berlusconi responded: "Maybe I will go back to being president of AC Milan."