Friday, 2 April 2010INDEX

  Sexing up a campaign?
Silvio Berlusconi, would be the richest and most powerful man in Italy, even if he wasn't president. But maybe he would be in jail.

Many believe that his prime motive for becoming a politician was to avoid prosecution.

From a British perspective he appears to be far too much like Mussolini, the war time fascist dictator of Italy. Of course, Berlusconi is no fascist: he just happens to own or run most of the Italian tv stations and use them to promote his business and political interests.

Despite his virtual stranglehold over the media, he has recently been the subject of several sex scandals. Proof positive that Italy still has a flourishing media capable of exposing even the most powerful to scrutiny? Well, maybe.

At the age of 72 it is possible some might suspect that Berlusconi was getting a bit old for the job. Possibly the best way to counter such a slur would be to have a few sex scandals. After all no ordinary septuagenarian gets attacked for having too many lovers.

Certainly the stories seem to have done him no harm. His supporters did extremely well in recent Italian regional elections.

In a general election in the 1860s, Benjamin Disraeli was running against Lord Palmerston, who was still Prime Minister well into his 80s. Palmerston had fathered an illegitimate child with a working class woman in his constituency. Disraeli's campaign manager urged him to reveal Palmerston's shocking debauchery to the electorate. Disraeli refused categorically. "If we do," he answered, "the old man will win a landslide!"

Expect British political spin masters to learn the lesson: look out for unexpected sex scandals.
Friday, 2 April 2010INDEX