Forza Italia leader will reportedly withdraw party from government if Mario Draghi is elected president

Silvio Berlusconi has reportedly threatened to withdraw his Forza Italia party from Italy’s governing majority if the current prime minister, Mario Draghi, is elected president later this month. The scandal-tainted media tycoon, who served four times as prime minister, is in Rome from Tuesday on the hunt for votes as he ramps up his own presidential campaign, The Guardian reports.

The secret ballot by more than 1,000 parliamentarians and regional representatives begins on 24 January and is expected to go through several rounds before a successor to Sergio Mattarella, who steps down on 3 February, is elected.

There are no official candidates in Italy’s presidential elections, although party leaders usually try to agree on a candidate.

Berlusconi, 85, is a favourite among the rightwing parties for the seven-year-mandate. However, Draghi, who is credited with restoring stability in Italy, as well as keeping the broad coalition in line, is tipped as the frontrunner.

According to reports in the Italian press, Berlusconi said that without Draghi as prime minister, “Forza Italia would leave the majority”. Draghi’s potential promotion risks bringing general elections forward by a year. In a poll released on Tuesday, more than 50% of Italians said Draghi was the person most fit for the job, while 39% supported Berlusconi.

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