Silvio Berlusconi has ended weeks of speculation by announcing he will run again for the job of prime minister, the post he was removed from last year.
He had called a meeting of the People of Freedom (PDL) for Sunday and had opened talks with former right-wing coalition allies, the Northern League, to try to agree on backing a single candidate, he said on Saturday.
"I am running to win," Berlusconi, 76, said in Milanello, near the northern city of Milan.
"When I did sport, when I worked and studied, I never entered into a competition to be well-placed but always to win."
In the coming campaign he wanted to present several new faces, "because there are numerous people who have the right to feel tired", Berlusconi said.
He had been in contact with a number of figures in the world of business, sport and university, he said.
"I hope to be in a position to be able to explain to Italians that there is a need for a force that enjoys a majority to change the rules of the constitution," he said.
A general election is expected to be held in March or April next year, but the precise date has not been set, nor is there any agreement on a reform of an election law widely seen as unsatisfactory.
Assailed by requests
In October, Berlusconi, Italy's biggest media magnate, had said that he would not run again for the premiership. On Wednesday evening, however, he said he had been assailed by requests to return to the field as soon as possible."
This will be his sixth bid to become prime minister, a post he has already held three times over a political career spanning two decades.
A parliamentary revolt forced Berlusconi from office in November last year as he was fighting a series of scandals that had damaged his reputation and, said critics, the country's standing.
Mario Monti took over as prime minister at the head of an unelected government of technocrats and introduced a policy of tax rises and austerity measures to get the economy under control.
On Thursday, PDL politicians abstained from confidence votes in the government to protest Monti's policies, but stopped short of bringing down the executive they have supported until now.
There has been renewed political tension in country however, with Pier Luigi Bersani, the newly nominated leader of the centre-left Democratic Party, accusing Berlusconi of "incoherence".
Bersani, who was voted in as the leader of the Democratic Party only last weekend, was comfortably ahead of Berlusconi in recent opinion polls ahead of the country's spring election.