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Italy's Berlusconi hospitalized in Milan

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been hospitalized in Milan, a source close to the matter stated on Sunday (January 22), a day after he decided against running for president.

He was admitted to hospital for routine medical checks, ANSA news agency reported.

It is not immediately clear when he was hospitalized, as a spokesperson for Berlusconi did not respond to a request for comment.

He was repeatedly admitted to hospital over the past year after contracting the new coronavirus in 2020.

In a statement on Saturday (January 21), Berlusconi said he was against running for president, removing an obstacle to cross-party negotiations ahead of the vote in parliament beginning on Jan. 24.

He was asked to run by Italy's rightist coalition, but his bid was unlikely to be successful due to difficulties in mustering the broad support traditionally needed from over 1,000 lawmakers and regional delegates involved.

The nomination of Prime Minister Mario Draghi is seen as the most probable outcome, but it is still unclear whether the broad sweep of parties that support his coalition will endorse him, for fear his departure could trigger an early national election.

Berlusconi favors Draghi to remain at the helm of the government until the natural end of the legislature, in 2023.

Neither the center-right nor the center-left bloc have enough votes to impose a candidate from their own camp, meaning a compromise is needed to prevent prolonged stalemate.

Berlusconi's rightist allies, Matteo Salvini's League and the Brothers of Italy, said they appreciated his decision.

In a statement, Salvini said the center-right bloc was united and ready to make several "high-profile" proposals.

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