MILAN Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's eldest daughter gave her first public indication on Wednesday that she may consider a future in politics as her father prepares to begin a community-service sentence for tax fraud.
Berlusconi has groomed no political successor, putting increasing pressure on his children to step into his shoes.
Marina Berlusconi, the 47-year-old chairwoman of his Fininvest holding company, showed signs of dropping her longstanding refusal to consider a future in politics in an interview in the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
"I have great respect for politics which I follow with great attention, but my place is in the company," she said.
"Having said that, you can never rule anything out in life. So it's like that today. Tomorrow, if it happened, politics, who knows?"
Italian media have also repeatedly reported that Berlusconi's 29-year-old daughter Barbara is willing to take up a political career.
Berlusconi, convicted last year of a massive tax fraud scheme at his Mediaset television empire, is due to begin community service at a home catering for people with Alzheimer's Disease on May 9, the director of the center said on Wednesday.
As his sentence begins, questions are mounting over his ability to lead Italy's center-right and the future of his Forza Italia party, which splintered last year.
Berlusconi is not allowed to leave the Lombardy region, with the exception of limited visits to Rome, and judges may impose house arrest after Berlusconi's widely publicized attacks on the tax fraud verdict upheld by Italy's top appeals court last year.
He is banned from holding public office but he is allowed to take part in campaigning for European parliamentary elections next month, and has conducted a series of television interviews in which he has attacked targets ranging from the judges who convicted him to President Giorgio Napolitano.
He stirred outrage at the weekend by saying that Germany denied the existence of World War Two concentration camps.
Berlusconi was forced to resign from the Senate last year in the wake of his conviction and holds no public office, but he remains the dominant figure on the center-right of Italian politics where his party sits on the opposition benches.
He has also played a decisive behind-the-scenes role in negotiations with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi who is trying to steer through an ambitious package of constitutional and economic reforms.
Paolo Pigni, head of the Sacred Family Foundation at Cesano Boscone near Milan, said on Wednesday Berlusconi would complete his first day at the center in 10 days time and would return a week later on May 16.
(Reporting by Illaria Polleschi and James Mackenzie; Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Louise Ireland)