With his centre-right People of Freedom party trailing in the polls and lacking a publicly-recognised leader, Silvio Berlusconi has pledged to return to public office and 'bang Italy back into the good time'.
'With a reputation like mine, the pressure is always on to perform,' said veteran porker and court regular, Berlusconi. 'But the bigger the challenge, the more I seem to rise to it. I'm 76 now so it's no surprise to find that inflation is sometimes an issue, but my interest rates remain high and all the key performance indicators are pointing up.'
Mr Berlusconi's right honourable member stood down from civic duty in November 2011 after three exhausting sessions of heroically screwing his country. But after a year's break and with the Italian economy still struggling, the former Prime Minister is said to be rested and ready to go and prepared to do 'whatever needs to be done – even if they're under-age and I have to pay for it'.
'When times are hard – and I can assure you that's always the case with me – the priority has to be to stimulate growth,' continued Berlusconi. 'Too many young people are out of work, so I feel I have a real sense of responsibility to put my heart, soul and other body parts into the next generation. I intend to invest in a programme of bunga-bunga parties that will provide countless opportunities to hard-working signorinas keen to climb the greasy pole.'
Although opponents have questioned whether his various legal commitments will leave Berlusconi with the time to commit to front-line boffing, the bronzed Milanese muff magnet remains positive. 'You only need a couple of minutes to make a real difference to some people's lives,' he said today. 'Besides, I saw this daytime advert on one of my TV channels and I've consolidated all my criminal cases into one easy monthly hearing.'