Italy's ex-premier and possible future candidate Silvio Berlusconi criticised his successor Mario Monti for raising taxes in an interview out on Tuesday, accusing him of being "conditioned" by the left.
Berlusconi also told the newly-launched Italian edition of The Huffington Post that Monti was too "servile to Germany, a hegemonic state that is dictating rules on discipline and austerity to other European state countries".
The former prime minister also criticised mistakes made in introducing the euro but said "it would be difficult to exit the eurozone now".
He said the only option was to convince Germany that austerity alone is not enough or risk "the end of the single currency and the destruction of Europe".
Monti "started out well... but unfortunately just at the moment when both austerity and growth were needed, the left conditioned Monti's government," Berlusconi said.
Berlusconi, who has kept out of the public eye since stepping down in November 2011 following a parliamentary revolt and a wave of financial market panic, said Monti had "preferred raising taxes to relaunching production".
Allies in his People of Freedom party, which has performed badly in local elections and is riven by infighting, have asked that the 75-year-old Berlusconi return to lead the party in a general election next year.
Berlusconi said the main centre-left Democratic Party had effectively "vetoed" a root-and-branch reform of the labour market.
"We would have wanted more courage," Berlusconi said.
But he also said he did not believe it would be a mistake to consider Monti a possible candidate in the upcoming elections even though the economics professor has consistently said he intends to step down next year.
"No it would not be a mistake but to be a candidate you first have to present your candidacy. Let's wait and see," he said.