He can't be prime minister again because of a tax fraud conviction, but he is a kingmaker for a coalition on the right - and was relishing the attention in Naples on Saturday.
Since the rise of social media, political communication has been increasingly preoccupied by two parallel phenomena: an increase in the level of personalization of electoral campaigns - with a greater centrality accorded to the image of the leader - and a widespread use of strategies based on negative campaigning.
"His political credibility was at ground zero".
With that in mind, many analysts foresee a post-election realignment in which Berlusconi and the centre-left PD would join forces in a re-enactment of the grand coalition that has held sway in Germany since 2013.
They are also pledging to wage war on austerity, invest in the labour market and renegotiate European Union fiscal rules which punish high-debt countries such as Italy. He can not hold public office until next year following a six-year ban over his tax fraud conviction.
A small, far-right party running in Italy's election has reported two more attacks on its supporters, including a candidate for the Senate. He said he aimed to act as a "director" of the next government.
Berlusconi is more clearly pro-European and has put forward European Parliament President Antonio Tajani as his nominee for premier if he wins while the eurosceptic Salvini has prime ministerial ambitions of his own.
If opinion polls prove accurate, voters will not reward any one party or coalition with enough votes to yield the parliamentary majority needed to sustain a viable government.
Yet Berlusconi's revival can't be fully realised, since his criminal record bars him from holding public office. "He is the cagiest of any politician I have ever witnessed at close quarters", he said.
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The sitting prime minister, 63, is a PD stalwart with a tiresome public image, but a relatively solid record in government and a quiet and unassuming style that, in contrast to Renzi, has earned him high popularity ratings and few enemies.
Right-wing parties wants a flat tax but have no plan to pay for it. Forza Italia wants to raise pensions. Despite the Western press having a go at the octogenarian's alleged wrongdoings, now that Berlusconi has completed his community service, the Italian electorate have been very forgiving.
M5S leader Luigi Di Maio has recently softened the party's tone on Europe, abandoning the idea of a referendum on dropping the single euro currency.
"So I believe that Italians should also be looking for leaders who are impeccable from that point of view". All the other major parties are pro-Putin.
Making only his second campaign appearance Friday night was comic Beppe Grillo, a 5-Star-Movement founder. The Five Stars aren't keen on North Atlantic Treaty Organisation either. If he does, the Democrats should give it to his party.
It is a scenario that Mr Nogarotto can see unfolding as well.
"At most, this marriage of convenience (between the rival coalitions of centre right and centre-left parties) will provide some stability, but it is unlikely to help push medium term GDP growth beyond 1% and solve Italy's productivity woes", the researchers said.
"If I had some quiet money on this, I'd be putting it on a grand coalition orchestrated by one Silvio Berlusconi".