Silvio Berlusconi has been left reeling after Italians turned out in droves to vote in referendums he urged them to boycott.
The proposals to end Berlusconi legislation on nuclear power, water privatisation and immunity from trial for government ministers were backed by the opposition and the people of Italy.
The referendum required a turnout of 50 percent to be valid. Fifty-seven percent voted and 95 per cent of ballots counted went against Berlusconi.
The savaging in the polls comes at a bad time for the prime minister as he faces a sex scandal and three fraud trials and suffered crushing losses in last months local elections on his home turf in Milan.
“We have got rid of nuclear power from Italy, and we have made it clear that water is for everyone,” said one man. While another purred “It is a great victory for the people, it’s a great victory let’s hope it is not the last.”
The Italian prime minister kept a brave face on things and joked about the backdrop at his news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying:
“The painting is by Andrea Appiani and it portrays the Parnassus, in other words the ‘bunga bunga’ of 1811, that’s me (pointing) and the other is Mariano Apicella. Thank you everyone and remember never take yourself too seriously, self mockery is fundamental.”
Berlusconi is in court later today to answer charges related to his so-called bunga bunga parties where he is charged with having underage sex with a teenage belly dancer. Belusconi denies any wrongdoing.