When Silvio Berlusconi was forced from office last fall, the world was quick to write off Italy’s scandal-prone prime minister as a welcome casualty of the eurozone crisis. That post-mortem, though, may have been premature. The septuagenarian tycoon appears set to run for prime minister, for a sixth time, in elections scheduled for next spring. For weeks, he has fed rumours, then dismissed speculation outright—to some, a brilliant communications strategy to get the country talking about him again. In a return to a theme from his first campaign, in 1994, he’s back to championing small government and low taxes.
It is doubtful this will be enough to fuel such a bid. Many Italians, particularly the business elite, have grown disillusioned with his nine-year record of dismal economic growth. In Rome last week, demonstrators protested his rumoured return. Even within his People of Liberty party, some would like him to remain in retirement.
Berlusconi may not have exited the political scene yet, but he may find the door to the prime minister’s office is shut for good.