The Straits Times
Published on Dec 17, 2012

Berlusconi takes to airwaves as election bid falters


ROME (AFP) - Mr Silvio Berlusconi bared his heart on primetime television on Sunday, as support for his re-election bid fell away with lawmakers from his own party pledging allegiance to Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti ahead of elections in February.

With his legal troubles coming to a head, Berlusconi invoked "vengeance before God" for his tax fraud conviction earlier this year. His ongoing trial for having sex with an underage prostitute was "a giant operation for defamation", he said.

The three-time prime minister also said he had been "tricked" into hosting parties with hordes of young women at a time when he felt "lonely" after separating from his second wife.

Mr Berlusconi was speaking on a chat show on Canale 5, part of his media empire. It came the same day the party he founded, the People of Freedom (PDL), held a convention in Rome where its leaders backed Monti.