Feb. 8 - With just a few weeks to go before the election, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi exudes confidence to encourage followers at a party rally in Rome. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
(ROUGH CUT ONLY - NO REPORTER NARRATION) Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was in his element on Thursday (February 7) as he egged on followers at a party rally in Rome. With just a few weeks to go before the national election, Berlusconi used his trademark sense of humour and confidence to encourage supporters of his People of Freedom Party (PDL). He began his speeches by making a joke about his party secretary Angelino Alfano - the man Berlusconi suggested could lead the government should a centre right alliance of the PdL and the more right wing Northern League win the election. Hinting that he is ready to hand the reigns to Alfano as his arduous campaigning draws to an end, Berlusconi jokingly hid behind the podium. Most opinion polls indicate a centre-left coalition, headed by Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani, will win the Feb. 24-25 vote. The gap between the centre left and the centre right has, however, been narrowing steadily since Berlusconi returned to active politics the resurgent former premier threatens to spoil an election victory that once seemed assured.