Lending weight to fears that Silvio Berlusconi will only leave politics horizontally, the Justice Minister Angelino Alfano has announced that the 74-year-old tycoon-premier will run for office again in 2013.
"Berlusconi will be a candidate in 2013 and we will support him," Mr Alfano told members of Mr Berlusconi's People of Liberty party. Mr Alfano was in the spotlight last month when Mr Berlusconi seemed to hint that the 40-year old minister may be his favoured successor.
But weeks later he named Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti as another potential successor. On Thursday this week Mr Berlusconi said he was "focusing on government," as he weighed into local elections, particularly in Milan, where his participation has effectively made this weekend's polls a referendum on him.
Mr Berlusconi said he had no plans on becoming head of state when President Giorgio Napolitano's seven-year term ends in 2013. Given that the role requires a degree of dignity, impartiality and respect for the constitution, not many people have voiced their approval of the notion of Mr Berlusconi getting the top job.