Berlusconi backs far-right leader Salvini as next Italian PM
The leader of the far-right League, Matteo Salvini, should be the next Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi said in an interview on Wednesday.
Salvini, 44, assumed the leadership of a broadly right-wing parliamentary bloc after the League won more votes than Berlusconi's Forza Italia party in Sunday's general elections.
"We will loyally support Salvini's attempt to form a government. I am convinced that I will succeed: On my part [...] I will be there to support him," Berlusconi, 81, told Corriere della Sera daily.
According to near-final results, the allied parties on the right won about 37 per cent of votes, including more than 17 per cent for the League and about 14 per cent for Forza Italia.
But the coalition is 49 seats short of a majority in the 630-seat lower Chamber of Deputies and 22 short in the 315-seat Senate, according to unofficial projections by the YouTrend political website.
The anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) is the other winner of the election, with about 32 per cent of the vote. But it lacks 88 seats in the Chamber and 45 seats in the Senate to form a majority.
The result means that Sunday's big loser, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), is also a potential kingmaker, as its support is crucial for both the centre-right and the M5S.
The PD is tormented over whether to stay in opposition or make a pact with one of its rivals. Its leader Matteo Renzi has announced his resignation and the party is due to discuss its prospects on Monday.