's an 80-year-old convicted criminal who left office amid legal troubles and sex scandals. But with national elections less than a year away, it seems that Italy's political black sheep Silvio Berlusconi might just be back, as Reuters' correspondent Steve Scherer reports.>> He's a real survivor. He never bows out.
He never gives up. He's always there. And he's a great campaigner. He doesn't back away from a fight, and so he loved to go out and campaign and mix it up.>> The Italian political scene has been dominated by Matteo Renzi's ruling Democratic Party and Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment Five Star Movement for years.
> But mayoral elections of the weekend proved the four-time prime minster is still a force to be reckoned with. His Forza Italia party and their anti-immigrant Northern League allies trounced their rivals in cities across Italy.>> Renzi is on sort of a bad slide right now, and the Five Star seems to have sort of reached a peak, or at least its momentum is slowed.
And so what happened with these local elections is that the traditional center right coalition, which is Berlusconi with the Northern League, with some centrists and others, did very well.>> In national elections, Italy's proportional representation system could hand Berlusconi, who's party is polling at 12 to 13%, a great degree of political power.
>> He could come out with significant amount of seats in Parliament, that would then allow him to make a deal with another party, probably Renzi's PD.>> The billionaire media magnate was forced to quit as prime minister in 2011 as Italy's borrowing costs soared to unsustainable levels. His departure amidst lurid allegations about sex parties at his private villa.
A conviction in 2013 for an elaborate fraud scheme led to him being barred from public office. He's appealing to the European Court of Human Rights to overturn that ban. But though his party could end up wielding power, it is unlikely that we'll see Berlusconi take a position in government any time soon.