Written and presented by Tony Barber; Filmed and edited by James Sandy
All across Europe people's minds are concentrating on the prospect that Silvio Berlusconi and his rightwing coalition could win the March 4 elections in Italy, and thus put him in a position to dominate the Italian political scene in the way that he hasn't done since late 2011. He's reconstructed the coalition, involving his Forza Italia party, the Northern League, and a rightwing party that's descended partly from the neo-fascism after the second world war.
That reconstructed coalition proved very effective in winning regional elections in Sicily towards the end of last year. It now has a substantial lead in the opinion polls for the national election. And indeed, once again, Silvio Berlusconi is the key figure being put forward as the man with all the answers Italy's ills. On the other hand, whether Berlusconi could ever be prime minister again, there's got to be big question marks over that.
And there is a ban on him serving in public office at the moment that followed his conviction for tax fraud in 2013. He also must face trial in a bribery case. But there he is, once again, the most influential figure on the right wing of Italian politics. And the thing is, he has made it this far because of the inability of the centre-left government to convince Italians that it's making enough progress. There is a great deal of public dissatisfaction with Italy's economic performance in recent years. And the migration emergency has also reached levels that it was never at when Berlusconi was prime minister. Now, the truth is, Silvio Berlusconi has already made a comeback, and he's appealing against the ban on him serving in public office, at the European Court of Human Rights. If he were to get that ban overturned, later this year perhaps, who knows? He may even have his eye on serving once again as prime minister. But maybe we can't rule that out.