Italy is suffering from too much austerity and an
overvalued euro currency, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
charged on Thursday, returning to a more aggressive political
discourse after months of silence.
Speaking at the launch of a book in which one of his former ministers attacks the economic policies of the sitting government led by Mario Monti, Berlusconi said the euro was "a great con" and that the exchange rate under which the lira was abandoned "was suicide."
He said there were two ways to lift out of trouble indebted eurozone members such as Italy: by giving the European Central Bank the power to lend them unlimited amounts of money or by letting Germany leave the euro.
"That would not be a tragedy," he opined.
Berlusconi also railed against Italy's tax-collecting agency Equitalia, accusing it of "extortion," and claimed the merit for blocking, when he was in office, a European Union deal on a financial transaction tax supported by France and Germany.
The conservative media mogul - who stayed out of the public limelight for three months during the summer - has still not said whether he intends to run as a prime ministerial candidate in elections due by next April.
Several commentators fear that neither Berlusconi's People of Liberty (PDL) party nor the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), currently ahead in the polls, will manage to lead a coalition into victory.
They suggested reappointing Monti as a solution to the deadlock that would arise under that scenario.
"I hope there will be a clear result with a clear possibility for whatever majority to be formed and for a government led by a political leader," Monti said Thursday while speaking at a Council on Foreign Relations event in New York.
However, hinting at the possible continuation of his political career, he added that, if there were "circumstances" under which others thought he "could serve helpfully after that period of elections, I will be there, I will consider, I cannot preclude anything."
PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani suggested Monti could be given another job. The premier has been touted as a successor to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano when his term ends in 2013, or as a candidate for European Union top jobs due to be allocated in 2014.
"I think that Italy cannot do without a personality such as Monti. But of course, before deciding 'what to do' with Monti, we also need to ask him," Bersani told dpa in an exclusive interview.
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