CORRIERE DELLA SERA, LA STAMPA, TG5 (Italy) TWITTER
ROME - For one brief, shining moment, he was back. For those who like their politics, well, colorful, the prospect of another run for office by controversial three-time Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had hung in the air for the past two months in Italy.
But on Tuesday morning, the media mogul phoned in to one of his family-owned network's news shows, TG5, to declare that he would not be a candidate for prime minister in next year's elections.
Berlusconi, who was forced to resign last year as Italy faced demands from Europe to slash its debt, said he would use his clout to help "all those who don't see themselves as part of the Left" to find a consensus "moderate" candidate in the 2013 elections, La Stampa reports.
After the news spread of his announcement, reaction was a mix of incredulity and irony:
— davide d'amico (@wolfino78) October 9, 2012
(Berlusconi won't run...what happened? Is it already Christmas?)
Berlusconi has been a singular presence in Italian politics and society for two decades, with his unique and some would say inappropriate style of leadership that included sex scandals, diplomatic gaffes and yet a unique ability to stay at the center of debate.
The billionaire media mogul still controls the country's main private television network, and is expected to remain active in both center-right politics and popular culture.