They called him “Daddy” or “Darling” … Dozens of bare-bre-sted women who jostled for his attention by draping themselves across his body or pole dancing for his pleasure in an underground salon at his residence Villa Arcore outside Milan. They dressed as nurses or police officers in kinky outfits that were stripped off and left on the floor, before their ebullient host chose one or two to share his bed for the night.

It sounds like the o-gy of an ancient Roman emperor.  And at least one commentator has compared him to Caligula.

But we are talking about the “bunga bunga”, the now notorious s-x parties hosted by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in his spare time. According to a 389-page dossier prepared by Milan prosecutors, there have been quite a lot of them.

Now in the past two years the 74-year-old Italian leader has survived enough s-x scandals  any one of which would have sunk any other leader in the Western world. His second wife, Veronica Lario, left him after he was photographed at the 18th birthday party of a Naples lingerie model two years ago and pr-stitute Patrizia D’Addario made international headlines when recordings of her alleged bedroom encounters with Berlusconi were released in 2009.

Now the Prime Minister is facing serious charges of under-age pr-stitution and extortion that could ultimately bring about his demise. The charges centre on his alleged relationship with teenage belly dancer Karim El Mahroug, better known as Ruby the Heart Stealer. Prosecutors have been told she was 17 years old when she was spotted doing a topless pole dance at a party at his residence in April last year and they claim she visited the premier’s residence eight times between February and May last year.

Having s-x with a pr-stitute under the age of 18 is an offence in Italy. The Prime Minister denies ever paying for s-x with the Moroccan-born teenager, and she has insisted that he “never laid a finger” on her even though he gave her €7000 in cash and  lavish gifts.  She also asked for €5 million to buy her silence.

Two other women — Nadia Macri and Maria Esther Garcia  Polanco — have now disclosed details of their s-xual encounters with Berlusconi while a stable of 14 women linked to the Prime Minister are being evicted from a Milan apartment complex that the billionaire property developer built in the 1970s and where they have been staying rent free.

As the Opposition demanded Berlusconi’s resignation and the Catholic Church called for greater decorum from the country’s leaders, many questioned whether the latest scandal would have any impact on voters more worried about the bleak economic outlook and whether there will be any jobs for their kids.

While a poll published on Sunday by respected Italian daily Corriere Della Sera showed that while one in two Italians thinks the Prime Minister should resign over the latest scandal, his People of Freedom party still retains 30% of the vote and it is quite possible Berlusconi would win another election with the backing of his coalition partner the Northern League.

As the Prime Minister was preparing a legal challenge questioning the jurisdiction of what he calls a left-leaning judiciary out to destroy him, there was speculation he may press for an early election and come out fighting.

You never want to underestimate his charm or his capacity to appeal to the average Italian voter.  As one local confided, “They think: ‘If I could make all that money and have all those woman and not go to jail, they I would do it too.’  That’s what keeps him in power.”

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey