The Italians love Silvio, even if no one else does
He is vulgar, repugnant -- and untouchable. Now the scandal-hit Italian prime minister is hoping to get his hands on even more power, writes Tobias Jones
In any normal country, Silvio Berlusconi would surely be dead and buried by now. In the past few months, he has been battered and bruised by a succession of scandals. It was discovered that he had been courting, to put it politely, 18-year-old Noemi Letizia and showering her with jewellery. He then lied, embarrassingly badly, about how he knew her (we still don't really know).
His wife has filed for divorce, saying he consorts with minors. Photographs have been published of orgiastic parties at his Sardinian villa that leave little to the imagination. It then emerged that there's a network of people who provide these women for the prime minister and, ahem, pay them for their services.
This week the smoking gun arrived: a recording of one of those escort girls, Patrizia D'Addario, being seduced, if that's the word, by Berlusconi. She didn't charge because Silvio promised to sort out a little planning issue for her -- something he has since denied.