Italy's Berlusconi hints he may run in 2013 election

ROME, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Former Italian Prime Minister

Silvio Berlusconi hinted on Saturday that he may seek to run in

spring elections, changing his mind again and deepening chaos in

his centre-right party.

A day before the centre-left is due to hold primary

elections to pick a candidate to lead their alliance in the

national poll, the centre-right is still unsure about whether to

hold its own primary vote, which hinges on Berlusconi's plans.

Asked by reporters on Saturday whether he was considering

"returning to the playing field", Berlusconi said, "I am

thinking about it."

Italy will hold a parliamentary election in March next year

to pick a government and new leader to take over from Mario

Monti, who came to power a year ago when Berlusconi stepped

aside at the height of the financial crisis.

After months of hinting that he may run and then

backtracking, Berlusconi said at the end of October that he

would not lead his People of Freedom (PDL) party in the

elections.

The centre-right has been preparing to hold its own primary

vote on Dec. 16 to choose a new leader, but PDL secretary

Angelino Alfano said on Saturday that "would not make much

sense" if Berlusconi decides to stand himself.

The PDL has been close to disintegration due to disputes

over whether to stick with Monti's unpopular economic policies.

The party has slumped in opinion polls to less than half its

support in 2008 elections, and speculation has been growing that

Berlusconi may form his own breakaway party.

(Reporting By Catherine Hornby; Editing by Myra MacDonald)

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