Silvio Berlusconi has stumbled badly in the Italian election campaign after telling a woman to solve her financial problems by marrying a millionaire.It's moments like this which occasionally make me think I should play closer attention to Italian politics.
The gaffe came during a Thursday night television show when a 24-year-old woman asked him how she was supposed to get a mortgage or start a family without a permanent job.
"You should perhaps look to marry a millionaire, like my son, or someone who doesn't have such problems," the perma-tanned billionaire told Perla Pavoncello. "With that smile of yours, you could even get away with it," he added.
His comments attracted criticism from Italy's unions and from Walter Veltroni, his opponent in next month's election.
"There are lots of things you can joke about, but the problems in Italy's economy are not among them," said Mr Veltroni. Mr Berlusconi responded by saying that Mr Veltroni "does not have a sense of humour".
Italy has a grave problem with youth unemployment, which runs as high as 40 per cent in areas such as Naples. Many Italian employers also only offer short-term contracts to youngsters since it is nearly impossible to fire employees.
Before the gaffe, public frustration with the failure of Romano Prodi's government has resulted in a commanding lead of up to 10 points in the polls for Mr Berlusconi whose new nickname is "psycho-dwarf".
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Via the Telegraph: