Silvio Berlusconi is the focus of new, damaging media reports.
Two respected Italian newspapers – Corriere della Sera and La Stampa – have published new allegations of sex scandals. In the latest in a series of claims, it is alleged that some 30 women attended close to 20 parties hosted by the prime minister and some were paid to have sex with guests. There is rising speculation about whether Berlusconi will survive the scandals, but many doubt he will be forced to resign. One woman in Rome said: “I don’t think this means the end of Berlusconi and it wouldn’t be fair if it did.” A man said: “This is a troubling time in politics, and personal situations are now often used to damage politicians, on the right and the left. I think in private everyone is free to do what they want.” Another woman said: “I don’t really care, but I think it’s pure gossip and rubbish.” But the Italian media says Berlusconi has lost support among Catholic voters and even some of his allies confirm there is speculation about the start of his decline. The latest claims come from leaked evidence from a court case in southern Italy, where lurid allegations about sex and wild parties involving Berlusconi have emerged. The prime minister has denied that he has ever paid for sex, and claims his critics are fueling the damaging headlines that have dogged him for months.