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Berlusconi daughter lines up as successor
ROME, JAN 30 (Agencies):
Published on 30 Jan. 2011 11:43 PM IST
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Italy faces the possibility of a dynastic succession as calls grow for the millionaire daughter of Silvio Berlusconi to enter politics with a view to becoming the country’s next prime minister.
In a move which would delight Mr Berlusconi’s supporters but dismay his opponents, Marina Berlusconi is being mooted as his possible successor as a prostitution scandal threatens to bring his third term in office to a premature end.
Ms Berlusconi, 44, who is known for her love of short skirts and high heels, is already being groomed to take over her father’s multibillion-dollar empire. The eldest of his five children, she heads his Fininvest holding company as well as Mondadori, his publishing empire.
Now she is believed to be contemplating a move into politics. Members of the Prime Minister’s People of Freedom (PDL) party have backed the idea of his daughter becoming a candidate at the next elections.
With Mr Berlusconi holding on to power with only the slimmest of majorities, and accused of having sex with an under-age prostitute and then abusing his powers to try to conceal the crime, it is increasingly likely that Italy will go to the polls well before his mandate expires in 2013.
His daughter already has the wealth and the connections - in the current Forbes list of the world’s 100 most powerful women, she is ranked 48, ahead of the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and Jordan’s Queen Rania.
The suggestion that Ms Berlusconi might exchange the boardroom for parliament was greeted with enthusiasm by party faithful last week.
She would be ‘’a huge asset to Italy’’, said an MP in Mr Berlusconi’s party, Michaela Biancofiore. ‘’She is an emblem of our country who’s recognised around the world for her managerial talents. If she went into politics it would be a shining example for all us women in the PDL.’’
Italy’s right-wing press also threw their support behind a future candidacy. ‘’Marina to become the nightmare of the Left’’ ran a headline in Il Tempo newspaper last week, above a flattering picture. Even Oggi, a magazine which is not allied to the right, asked: ‘’After 20 years of Silvio, another 20 of Marina?’’
She has a high profile in Italy, helped by her regular appearance in tabloid magazines; last year photographs of her sunbathing topless were printed in a gossip magazine that belongs to her father, suggesting she had no objection to their use.
Many Italians would see Ms Berlusconi’s lack of political experience as an advantage, given the low regard in which they hold most politicians. Ms Berlusconi, who is married to a former dancer from Milan’s La Scala opera with whom she has two children, has said the suggestion that she might jump into politics is ‘’hypothetical’’. But her father was similarly coy in the early 1990s, before he entered politics.
Women at the centre of Berlusconi scandal being besieged by media
The sex scandal engulfing Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi seems to be deepening day by day and now the Italian press is besieging models and showgirls, alleged to have accepted cash from him in return for sex.
Maria Ester Garcia Polanco, one of the women at the centre of the scandal, said she was concerned about her daughter because of police raids and being under the media spotlight, reports the Guardian.
“With the newspapers full of this story, I am concerned about my child and what other mothers are saying at school,” said the 27-year-old model and showgirl.
Two weeks ago police woke her at 6a.m. to search for evidence that she was accepting cash gifts and free rent from the Prime Minister, allegedly in return for sexual favours. Since then journalists have laid siege to Via Olgettina apartment in Milan that is home to Maria and a ‘stable’ of other beautiful women, all suspected of participating in Berlusconi’s alleged ‘bunga bunga’ nights of striptease and sex at his villa an hour’s drive to the north.
However, Polanco has rejected the notion that she is a kept woman. “I never said I had sex with him,” she said.
“The truth is that Berlusconi’s dinners were just normal events followed by karaoke and Berlusconi singing in French,” she said.
Her version of events echoes the stories told by numerous fellow party guests to Berlusconi’s lawyer Niccolo Ghedini. For another frequent party guest Barbara Guerra too, life has become an uncomfortable experience.
“The morning after the police raid, I opened my front door to find the hall packed with paparazzi,” said the 32-year-old Italian TV star.
“And since the magistrates’ evidence was leaked on the internet - including our mobile phone numbers - I have been getting calls from maniacs in the night,” she added.
As for the incriminating accusations made about the latest ‘bunga bunga’ parties in Milan, Guerra has blamed ‘people trying to attract attention to themselves’.
Guerra’s neighbour is fellow showgirl Arisleida Espinosa, who has had her own problems since the interrogation by magistrates of a friend she took to a Berlusconi party.
The friend told the magistrates that Espinosa received envelopes of cash from the Prime Minister because she had slept with him more than once.
Via Olgettina models, such as Polanco, Guerra and Espinosa, have become Berlusconi’s first line of defence in a battle now shaking Italy’s institutional framework.

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