Berlusconi Gains in Opinion Poll, Narrowing Gap With Democrats

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s coalition picked up support in a new opinion poll, narrowing the gap with the Democratic Party and its partners to less than 10 percentage points.

Support for Berlusconi and his allies rose to 27.9 percent in a poll by EMG for La7 television network, from 25.3 percent in a previous survey a month ago. Berlusconi gained support at the expense of the coalition led by the Democratic Party, which slipped to 37.4 percent from 40.3 percent.

The shift narrowed the gap between the two leading coalitions to 9.5 percentage points from 15 percentage points.

Berlusconi’s poll advance comes amid a media blitz, with the three-time premier blanketing national and local TV with interviews. The EMG poll came after he appeared last week on a program hosted by Michele Santoro, a journalist Berlusconi had fired from state-owned RAI a decade ago. That nearly three-hour showdown was watched by almost 9 million Italians.

The gain in support came after Berlusconi renounced his bid to become prime minister again to secure an election alliance with the Northern League. The League, a member of all three Berlusconi governments, agreed to join the coalition on the condition that Berlusconi wasn’t the prime minister candidate. Angelino Alfano, secretary general of Berlusconi’s People of Liberty party, will be the candidate and Berlusconi will seek the post of finance minister, Berlusconi said in an interview today on Sky TG24’s “Lo Spoglio” program.

Monti Gains

Prime Minister Mario Monti also picked up support in the EMG poll, with his coalition gaining to 14.8 percent, from 9.9 percent a month ago, which was before Monti officially declared his candidacy to lead the parties backing his pro-European economic platform.

The EMG poll was more favorable to Berlusconi than others released in recent days. In a poll yesterday by Tecne for Sky TG24 the Democratic Party and its allies had 37.8 percent to Berlusconi’s 26 percent. SWG Institute released its weekly poll on Jan. 11 giving the center-left alliance 40.4 percent to 25.3 percent for Berlusconi and his partners. Both those polls showed gains for Berlusconi’s coalition.

Berlusconi said on “Lo Spoglio” that his own poll conducted by Euromedia has his coalition trailing by less than 5 percentage points, with his bloc winning support from 34.2 percent to 38.3 percent for the Democratic Party and its partners.

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