MILAN, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s holding company Fininvest denied media rumours that its chairman Marina Berlusconi was set to follow her father’s footsteps in politics by taking over leadership of the ruling centre-right PDL party.
Fininvest’s comment comes as the Italian government faces a crisis that might push the country to early elections in the next few months and which has turned attention on possible successors to the 74 year-old premier.
“We have to reassert that there is nothing true. They are simple speculation and conjectures which have never existed,” said a Fininvest spokesman in a statement.
Married to a former dancer and a mother of two, Berlusconi’s daughter Marina heads the family’s publishing company Mondadori (MOED.MI) and is a member of investment bank Mediobanca’s board.
Marina, 45, is 12th in a list of the top 50 most powerful women in the world by U.S. magazine Fortune.
Part of the speculation was spurred by comments earlier this week by Environment Minister Stefania Prestigiacomo, who said Marina could be nominated head of the ruling PDL party.
“I know her name is in the air,” Prestigiacomo said. “It might be very good news. She is a very capable woman. But this nomination should come after the next elections.”
Prestigiacomo’s comments had prompted critics to complain that Italy risked turning into a monarchy of sorts if Marina did end up replacing Berlusconi in national politics.
Italy’s left-leaning daily La Repubblica mocked the situation on Tuesday with a cartoon where one character says: “Berlusconi has to choose between two options”, prompting the other to reply: “Early elections or giving Italy to his children”.
“This speculation is not to be taken seriously,” Pier Silvio, who is vice chairman of the family television company Mediaset (MS.MI), which is controlled by Fininvest, said on the sidelines of a Milan conference.
“Marina does not intend to enter politics. She wants to be supportive of our father.”
Mediaset shares ended trade in Milan 4.6 percent lower. Investors are worried that company’s revenues might be affected by the government collapse, traders said. (Writing by Giselda Vagnoni; Editing by Charles Dick)