ROME — Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who was convicted of tax fraud in October, said he agreed with voters disgusted by politicians linked to corruption scandals.
“I think exactly like they do,” Berlusconi, 76, said in an interview on Canale 5, a television station owned by his Mediaset SpA. “I have never been a politician. I have always been an anti-politician.”
Berlusconi is seeking to distance himself from scandals at his party as he battles his own criminal charges of tax fraud, abuse of power, and engaging a minor in prostitution.
With elections next month, Berlusconi must convince voters he is untainted by the investigations that toppled People of Liberty governments in Lombardy and Lazio last year. Franco Fiorito, the former party head in Lazio, was arrested and charged with embezzlement.
“The voters who were disgusted by what they saw in politics with the Fioritos etcetera, etcetera, who scandalously took advantage of public funds for the themselves, convinced Italians that these politics, these parties, these political leaders don’t work,” Berlusconi said.
Berlusconi, the most successful Italian politician of the last two decades, has suffered in opinion polls since he resigned the premiership in November 2011.
To win his fourth general election, Berlusconi’s People of Liberty, or PDL, would have to overcome a public approval deficit to its traditional rival, the Democratic Party headed by Pier Luigi Bersani.
The PDL along with its ally, the Northern League, and some smaller parties would win 28.8 percent of the vote if elections were held today, according to a poll by Tecne for SKY TG24.
The Democratic Party and its allies led in the poll with support of 40 percent. Prime Minister Mario Monti and his supporters had 14.3 percent.
In October, Berlusconi was convicted of tax fraud and sentenced to four years in prison. The billionaire media mogul remains free as he appeals the sentence, which is tied to film-rights dealings at Milan-based Mediaset. Berlusconi is standing trial in the prostitution and abuse of power cases and has denied the charges.
Carlo Taormina, a lawyer for Fiorito, has said his client was simply managing an expense organization that was put into place before he took office.
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