Italian prince eyes European parliament seat


June 18, 2010 Updated Apr 28, 2009 at 6:11 PM EDT

Prince Emmanuel Filiberto of Savoy, grandson of Italy's last king, announced Tuesday that he will head a candidate list of the Christian Democratic party in the June European elections.

"It's the realisation of a dream after the end of the exile" imposed on the male members of Italy's estwhile royal family until 2002, he told AFP by telephone.

"I want to make myself useful to my country. The UDC is a party of the centre -- far removed from the extreme left and right -- with which I share the same Christian values on family and life," he added.

Emmanuel Filiberto, 36, will joint-head the UDC candidate list for north-west Italy with former Muslim journalist Magdi Allam, whose conversion to Christianity in 2008 caused widespread controversy.

"Emmanuel will be a big surprise to Italian and European politics. He is an extraordinary person," said UDC leader Lorenzo Cesa.

The prince, who is married to French actress Clotilde Courau, contested last year's Italian parliamentary election as the head of the "Values and Future" movement. But he won just 0.4 percent of the vote.

The male heirs of the Italian royal family were sent into exile in 1946 for the collaboration of then-monarch Victor Emmanuel III and Benito Mussolini's fascist regime. The king had cosigned and promoted the regime's racial laws in 1938.

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