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 End in sight for Berlusconi, the great survivor

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PostSubject: End in sight for Berlusconi, the great survivor   End in sight for Berlusconi, the great survivor EmptyTue Nov 08, 2011 8:16 pm

But on Tuesday night it looked as though Silvio Berlusconi, one of the world's most charismatic and controversial politicians, was finally throwing in the towel after dominating Italy's politics for 17 years.
In the end it was not the bunga bunga parties or the whiff of corruption that brought him down, but the financial mess that Italy finds itself in, for which the prime minister must shoulder a large part of the blame.
Despite enjoying a convincing parliamentary majority during much of his wholesale jerseys political career, he failed to enact the sort of structural reforms that Italy so desperately needed.
With his hair implants, built-up heels and permanent sun tan, he became a gift for cartoonists and satirists. He earned global notoriety for his penchant for glamorous young starlets and showgirls, who were photographed lounging in the sun and taking topless showers at his villa on Sardinia's Costa Smeralda.
His gaffes and schoolboy pranks earned him the ire of global leaders, cheap mlb jerseys including Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and President Barack Obama, whom Mr Berlusconi infamously called "sun-tanned"
He was inevitably portrayed as a dissolute emperor surrounded by dancing girls and fawning lackeys, a modern day Nero who fiddled while all around him Italy burned.
Or as one Italian commentator put in at the height of the sex scandals, "a cross between Hugh Hefner and the Emperor Tiberius."
For much of his time in office he was mired in a web of scandal and corruption allegations, with charges ranging from tax fraud, bribery and false accounting to paying for sex with a 17-year-old nightclub dancer. And yet he still managed to get elected as prime minister three times.
Born and raised in Milan, he worked as a nightclub singer on cruise ships before building up a multi-billion pound empire based on construction, publishing and television channels, amid rumours – none of them ever proven – that his career was given a kick-start by the Mafia.
He burst onto the political scene in the 1990s after the Christian Democrats imploded in a corruption scandal.
Italians were dazzled by Mr Berlusconi's slick nfl jerseys cheap salesman's patter, his portrayal of himself as an outsider untainted by cronyism and his promises to initiate a Thatcher-esque revolution of economic reform.
He created a new party from scratch and demonstrated his knack for connecting with ordinary Italians by calling it Forza Italia – Go Italy – which echoed a chant sung by fans of the national football team.
He won his first election in 1994 but his government lasted just a few months after it was brought down by Umberto Bossi, the mercurial leader of the devolutionist Northern League.
Mr Berlusconi bounced back in 2001, running an aggressive and lavishly-funded media campaign.
Incredibly for a country where governments came and went with alarming frequency, he managed to stay in office until 2006, the longest prime ministerial term since the end of the Second World War.
He was replaced by a lacklustre and uninspiring centre-Left jerseys wholesale government which he managed to oust in 2008.
Things began to go wrong during his latest stint as prime minister when Veronica Lario, his wife of 20 years, announced that she wanted a divorce.
She accused him of "consorting with minors" after he dropped into the 18th birthday party of an underwear model Noemi Letizia, who said she called him "Papi" or Daddy.
He was also the victim of a bizarre attack in which he suffered facial injuries after being hit with a model cathedral.
Then came allegations from a escort, Patrizia D'Addario, that she had yotoforum slept with him in a double bed given to the prime minister by Vladimir Putin.
Dozens of other women came forward to say that they too had been paid to attend "bunga bunga" sex parties.
The sleaze reached a crescendo when a 17-year-old, exotic dancer called Karima El Mahroug, who went by the stage name of Ruby the Heart Stealer, said she had also attended parties at which women performed stripteases.
Prosecutors charged Mr Berlusconi with paying for sex with an under-age prostitute and abuse of office. He is currently on trial and could face more than a decade in jail if the allegations are proven.
"His legacy in terms of Italy's national culture is a disaster,"cheap jerseys said Roberto D'Alimonte, a professor of politics at LUISS university in Rome. "You could fill books with all the negativity."
Mr Berlusconi also faces two corruption trials, one of them centring on allegations that he bribed his British tax lawyer, David Mills, the estranged husband of the former Cabinet minister Tessa Jowell.
Many Italians were unmoved by the accusations, believing Mr Berlusconi when he said he was the victim of a politically motivated witch hunt.
Incredibly, Mr Berlusconi may be down, but he might not be out. Shortly after he was seen writing a note in parliament that discussed his resignation, he said Italy's president would "open consultations and decide on the future" of the country.
"I can see only the prospect of new elections," he said. For a man who has shown himself unable to resist temptation, the prospect of offering himself up as a candidate once again may just prove too hard to resist.
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