Berlusconi was reportedly not present ‘live’ himself, but had his message read out.
Earlier this week it seemed clear that the controversial Berlusconi could count on insufficient support to trump favorite Mario Draghi. The current prime minister (74) is favored in left-wing and moderate circles.
Berlusconi but also other party leaders want Draghi, former president of the European Central Bank, to remain in his post. His departure could lead to snap elections.
The vote on the new head of state by the more than 1,000 parliamentarians, senators and representatives of the 20 regions will start on Monday. In the first three rounds, each lasting a day, a candidate must receive two-thirds of the vote to become president. From the fourth round, an absolute majority is sufficient.