Four days ahead of Italian elections and much of the focus has switched to an uproar over an insult used by Silvio Berlusconi.
The Prime Minister said people would be “coglioni” to vote for the centre-left opposition, a word that literally means testicles but is used to mean idiot.
Opposition leader Romano Prodi responded by saying that Berlusconi was not fit to be leader.
The Prime Minister’s comments came during a speech to a business association, and followed his surprise announcement that he would scrap an unpopular property tax.
A friend of the Prime Minister, Paolo Guzzanti, a journalist and member of Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, said: “Oh my god, but what did Berlusconi say, oh, did you see Berlusconi? They have a manipulated impression from outside.
“They are missing the point. This is a character who can reach his audience, who can reach straight to his own electorate.”
Meanwhile, Berlusconi has changed his mind about appearing on one of his television stations tonight after being warned by the opposition that he would be breaking election rules.