Italy's Berlusconi Cuts Coalition Deal With Northern League

Fourth time is the charm!


Former Premier Silvio Berlusconi announced a deal today with the Northern League—his fractious coalition partner in three governments—to jointly run in Italy's election next month, a move that could give fresh impetus to the center-right and extend the Berlusconi era.

While leaving open the question of whether he will run himself, Berlusconi underlined his ambitions for the deal reached overnight at his villa near Milan by saying: "Habemus Papum,"—the Latin phrase for "We have a pope."

A return to power for the 76-year-old Berlusconi, a man convicted just months ago of tax fraud and likely facing two criminal verdicts in the coming weeks, may seem incredible to observers abroad. Opinion polls at home, however, have seen Berlusconi's conservative party gaining since he pulled its support for Premier Mario Monti's technical government last month.