I still back Silvio Berlusconi, says Bunga Bunga girl
AS he licks his wounds following his humiliating exit from power, Silvio Berlusconi has been offered sympathy and support from an unexpected quarter – the call girl whose revelations initiated one of the biggest scandals of his career.
Patrizia D'Addario, who claims she slept with the then prime minister at his mansion in Rome on the night that Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, says she regrets the fact that he was forced to resign.
"I'm sorry that Berlusconi had to resign and for the insults he received when he did. He'll be remembered as a great prime minister," the former escort girl, who made tape recordings of her alleged amorous encounter, told Italian radio.
When Miss D'Addario went public with her story in 2009 it made headlines worldwide and opened the floodgates for dozens of other showgirls and models to say that they too had attended Berlusconi's parties at his residence, Palazzo Grazioli, close to the Italian parliament.
She said she did not think her kiss-and-tell revelations – including a book she wrote called "Take Your Pleasure, Prime Minister" – had anything to do with Mr Berlusconi's departure at the weekend.
"Absolutely not, I've only ever told the truth. I certainly didn't want to bring down the government," she said.
Her book contained a toe-curling account of her night with the prime minister, in which she claimed that he kissed "all the intimate parts of my body" and deserved the Guinness Book of Records for his stamina.
She said it was regrettable that Mr Berlusconi was heckled and jeered by thousands of Italians when he went to hand in his resignation to Italy's president on Saturday night.
Miss D'Addario, from the southern Adriatic town of Bari, said months of political crisis had left the billionaire businessman looking exhausted.
"When I knew him he was a sunny person but now he seems very tired, I must say."
Asked if she had any advice for the 75-year-old former leader, she said: "To not give up and to continue to occupy himself with the country's problems." Within hours of his resignation Mr Berlusconi gave clear signals that he hopes to remain involved in politics and to help his PDL party regain power.
He should put himself up for election again, Miss D'Addario said. "Silvio Berlusconi is a strong person, he should continue to fight for the good of Italy." Mr Berlusconi has said he cannot recall Miss D'Addario and that he has never paid for sex, but he has also acknowledged that he loves beautiful women and is "no saint".
There was a rather different reaction to Mr Berlusconi's departure from Martin Schulz, a German MEP whom the Italian leader once notoriously compared to a concentration camp guard.
Mr Schulz said television images of crowds in Rome yelling and calling the outgoing prime minister a thief, a buffoon and a Mafioso, "spoke clearly about how the Italian people viewed the fall of Berlusconi".