Johannesburg: Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has said that he would not be running for elections next year, and would hand his People of Freedom party over to a successor, ending months of uncertainty over his candidacy and political future.
“I will not be presenting my candidacy but I will remain at the side of younger people who can play and score goals,” News24 quoted the media magnate, who founded the party in 2009, as saying.
According to the report, the 76-year-old tycoon, who owns AC Milan football club and three national television channels as well as several private villas, said in a statement that his successor would be appointed by the end of December following a party vote.
"I still have good muscles and a head on my shoulders, but my role will be to give advice", he said, adding that the vote may take place on December 16.
"For the love of Italy one can do crazy and wise things. Eighteen years ago I came onto the scene, a mad move that did not lack wisdom: I now take a step back," the billionaire added.
The former prime minister had retreated from the political frontlines after handing over power in November 2011 to former European competition commissioner Mario Monti amid a parliamentary revolt and a wave of financial market panic, the report said.
The move came as his scandal-hit PDL party tries to boost its credibility following a series of investigations into misuse of party funds, it added.