Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi won regional elections for Sicilian governor on Monday, putting himself in good position for the national vote in the spring.
After nearly 90 percent of the ballots counted, Berlusconi’s coalition won nearly 40 percent of the vote Sunday. The anti-establishment Five-Star Movement received 35 percent of the vote, while the Democratic Party received 19 percent.
The win puts Berlusconi and his coalition in a favorable position when the national vote arrives in May.
Berlusconi attributed the successes to public appearances he made in Sicily before the vote. He also cited his backing of the anti-immigration Northern League and Brothers of Italy.
The former prime minister was forced to resign in 2011, accused of poorly managing Italy’s debt crisis — and accusations of scandalous parties at his homes in Milan and Sardinia.
Although he was written-off politically after his resignation, Berlusconi, 81, signaled a comeback with Monday’s regional victories.
“He’s risen from the ashes, he’s back in the saddle,” Roberto D’Alimonte, a political expert from Luiss University in Rome, said. “The man is a genius. Despite everything, he’s back.”
Lombardy Gov. Roberto Maroni of the Northern League called Berlusconi “immortal.”
Berlusconi is barred from serving again as Italy’s prime minister, due to a 2013 tax fraud conviction.
The victories Monday are seen by some as a measure of how Italians will vote in the country’s national elections next spring.
“There’s an old adage about politics in Italy — whoever wins in Sicily and [the northern region of] Lombardy will win in the rest of the country,” Paolo Romani, a lawmaker from Berlusconi’s party, said.
By Sara Shayanian