ROME, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) -- Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Wednesday he will not stand if Italy holds early elections, a day after promising to step down once parliament approves urgent budget reforms for 2012.
"I will resign as soon as the law is passed. Since I believe there is no other majority possible, I see elections being held at the beginning of February and I will not be a candidate in them," he told his own "Canale 5" television station.
The 75-year-old premier said that once the budget measures for 2012 are passed Italian President Giorgio Napolitano will begin consultations naming as his likely successor a 41-year-old Sicilian lawyer, Angelino Alfano, who is now the secretary of his People of Freedom party.
Alfano will be in "pole position" to be the right's candidate at the elections, Berlusconi said, adding this would represent a "generational change."
In an interview to Turin-based newspaper La Stampa, Berlusconi reiterated he would not be standing again.
"Indeed, I will not propose as a candidate again, quite the opposite I feel liberated,"he said, adding "now it is Alfano's moment, he will be our candidate for prime minister. He is very clever, better than one might think, and his leadership has been accepted by everybody."
The package of reforms for 2012 requested by the EU to shore up Italy's economy, which is badly affected by the Eurozone debt crisis, are expected to be carried out in both houses of parliament within the end of November.
Berlusconi's party would like to have early elections, while the opposition sees a technocrat or national-unity government in order to reassure international markets which are increasingly concerned over whether Italy can solve its debt problems, analysts said.
After opening slightly higher, the main Milan stock index was trading 2.4 percent lower on Wednesday morning, while the yield on benchmark 10-year Italian bonds also soared to a record high, hitting 7 percent.