Italian election 2018: Who is Antonio Tajani? Will he be next Italy prime minister?

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Italian election 2018: Berlusconi & Antonio Tajani

GETTYItalian election 2018: Berlusconi named Antonio Tajani as his candidate for PM

Barred from holding office himself over a tax conviction, 81-year-old Mr Berlusconi announced Mr Tajani was his preferred candidate for PM in the this week.

Yesterday, Mr Tajani tweeted his thanks for the ex-Italian leader’s “gesture of respect’ adding: “I told him that I was willing to serve Italy."

Silvio Berlusconi welcomed Tajani's announcement shortly after an appearance on a talk show on one of the media magnate's own TV channels.

He said: "I know it's a shame to take Antonio Tajani away from Europe, but it's in the best interest of Italy.”

Who is Antonio Tajani?

Antonio Tajani was born in Rome in August 1953.

He earned a law degree at the Sapienza University of Rome and served as an officer in the Italian Air Force, later becoming a radar controller at the radar base of San Giovanni Teatino.

A former journalist with Italy's Rai television and Il Giornale newspaper, he speaks French, English and Spanish besides Italian.

Mr Tajani was elected to the European Parliament in 1994 and has spent much of his political career in Brussels.

Italian election 2018: Berlusconi & Antonio TajaniAFP

Italian election 2018: Antonio Tajani has been a loyal friend to Berlusconi

Italian election 2018: Antonio TajaniEPA

Italian election 2018: Antonio Tajani was elected to the European Parliament in 1994

I know it's a shame to take Antonio Tajani away from Europe, but it's in the best interest of Italy.

Silvio Berlusconi, Forza Italia leader

He also served as EU transport commissioner in 2008-10 and then as industry commissioner in 2010-14

He became president of the EU assembly in January 2017 when Martin Schulz left the job to return to national German politics.

His pro-European credentials mean he will not be welcomed with open arms by either of his coalition partners, which are both eurosceptic.

But Mr Tajani, 64, has been one of Mr Berlusconi's most loyal lieutenants.

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