Who is Antonio Tajani, Berlusconi’s prime minister candidate

Tajani is considered one of Italy’s point men in the international context and is regarded highly in Brussels, due to his long career in the European institutions and his capability to reach compromises.

Antonio Tajani, current European Parliament President, melted the reservations and agreed to be Forza Italia’s prime minister candidate just ahead of the Italian general election, to be held on Sunday 4 March. The party’s leader Silvio Berlusconi announced it on live TV at ‘Matrix’, Mediaset, on Thursday night.

Willingness to serve Italy

Tajani tweeted immediately following the announcement: ‘Thanks to President Berlusconi for his act of esteem towards me. I gave him, tonight, my willingness to serve Italy. Now, any decision in this respect remains responsibility of our citizens and of the President of the Republic’.

A quick climb up

Born in Rome, at an early age he was officer in the Italian air forces and later became a professional journalist working for some prominent media outlets such as Rai Radio 1 and Il Giornale. In 1994 he got into politics, marking the biggest turning point in his career. Indeed, he was among the founders of Forza Italia, became spokesman for the then prime minister Berlusconi and was immediately elected to the European Parliament.

The road to Brussels

In 2001, he was candidate for the mayor of Rome, but was defeated by the center-left opponent Walter Veltroni. Since 2002, he is amongst the European People’s Party Vice-Presdients. Six years later, he was appointed as Italy’s European Commissioner for Transport and later became European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship.

During his mandate, he has come to be known for his moderating qualities. As reported by Politico, one of his Parliament colleagues declared: ‘He’s very good at finding solutions and is skilled at pleasing everybody, even if it takes him a lot of time’.

The municipality of Gijon, Spain, dedicated a street to Tajani due to his brokering qualities that allowed the reopening of a plant. Nevertheless, he is also considered close to lobbies and too focused on Italian politics in general.

In January 2017, he was finally elected as President of the European Parliament, defeating a fellow countryman, the socialist Gianni Pittella, and the liberal Guy Verhofstadt.

Public image

Tajani is considered one of Italy’s point men in the international context and is regarded highly in Brussels, due to his long career in the European institutions and his capability to reach compromises by sharing different approaches and points of view.

Moreover, he already knows personally many global leaders and, apart from Italian, he speaks English, French and German fluently. However, it remains to be seen to what extent his moderate and sometimes progressive positions can push the other coalition parties, the Northern League and Brothers of Italy, to call into questions his appointment.