In Italy: Sex, bribes test leader’s mettle

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s hopes of surviving a crucial no confidence motion in parliament hung by a thread yesterday as political commentators predicted the outcome could be decided by as little as a single vote.

The 74-year-old media tycoon has gone through one of his toughest years in 2010, an “annus horribilis” of scandal and bitterness that has badly undermined his leadership and left his struggling center-right government in disarray.

If Berlusconi loses votes in the lower house or a separate motion in the Senate, he will have to resign. But as the date approaches, a campaign of promises and arm-twisting has detached wavering deputies from the rebel camp.

He gets around

A list of the main sex scandals that have hit Berlusconi since his 2008 election:

» In April 2009, Berlusconi was photographed at the 18th birthday party of aspiring model Noemi Letizia. Soon after, his wife Veronica announced that she wanted a divorce.

» Berlusconi denied anything improper in dealings with Letizia, who was soon eclipsed by claims from other women that they had been invited to attend parties at Berlusconi’s various residences.

» Call girl Patrizia D’Addario said she had slept with Berlusconi after one party and had tapes to prove it. Berlusconi denied paying for sex.

» A 17-year-old Moroccan nightclub dancer known by the stage name of Ruby Rubacuori said she treated the PM to some sort of sexual activity — known as “bunga bunga.”

» It was later revealed that Berlusconi had called a police station where Ruby was held to ask for her release. Berlusconi says he did not interfere with the justice system.



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