Berlusconi bids for 'showgirl' candidates
Silvio Berlusconi was facing a party revolt yesterday over reported plans to field showgirls with little or no political experience as candidates in regional elections next month -- a strategy that caused uproar last year.
The scheme to use attractive young women, including television hostesses, models and 'Big Brother' contestants, as candidates in European and local elections last June was described by Veronica Lario, Mr Berlusconi's estranged wife, as an abuse of power and "shameless trash . . . (to) amuse the Emperor". Nearly all the candidates were withdrawn after similar criticism.
But amid a rise in popularity after a physical attack on him in December, the Italian prime minister appears to be reviving the plan.
Potential candidates for the ruling People of Liberty (PdL) party in March elections in Lazio include Francesca Pascale, a television presenter; Cristina Ravot, a model and singer; and Francesca Provetti, a Miss Italy finalist and television host, according to 'La Repubblica' newspaper.
The list was denounced by several of Mr Berlusconi's allies.
And PdL deputy Flavia Perina said that adopting showgirls as candidates was "a retrograde step". She said the move undermined serious women candidates.
"You cannot, on the one hand, put forward strong women candidates with a solid political background, and on the other put showgirls on the electoral lists," said Ms Perina.
Sofia Ventura, a political scientist at Bologna University and PdL activist, said Mr Berlusconi was "out of touch with modern realities and with what women represent in our society today". (© The Times, London)