Melbourne, Feb 1 (ANI): Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi is in trouble again - and this time it's within his own party, over reported plans to give tickets to inexperienced showgirls in the regional elections slated for March.
Berlusconi has come up with a similar plan to field television hostesses, models and Big Brother contestants in European and local elections last June, a move that his wife Veronica Lario dubbed as a misuse of power and "shameless trash ... [to] amuse the Emperor".
Severe criticism had forced Berlusconi to withdraw almost all the candidates.
However, after the physical attack on him in December and the consequent rise in his popularity, Berlusconi is set to revive the plan.
According to La Repubblica newspaper, potential candidates for the ruling People of Liberty (PdL) party in the March elections in Lazio include Francesca Pascale, a television presenter, and Cristina Ravot, a model and singer.
Francesca Provetti, a Miss Italy finalist and TV host, will stand in Lombardy, and Giovanna Del Giudice, a former weather presenter on Rete4, one of Berlusconi's Mediaset television channels and now an assistant in the Senate, will contest from Campania.
It is believed that Chiara Sgarbossa, a former Miss Veneto and former television weather presenter, is being considered for a seat in the Veneto region, while Graziana Capone, a law graduate and model dubbed "the Angelina Jolie of Bari", may be fielded in Apulia.
However, the list has come under fire from many of Berlusconi's allies.
Giorgio Stracquadanio, a PdL deputy and one of the staunchest supporters of the Prime Minister, said there it was probable that the issue of veline (showgirls) would "re-explode just as we are seeking to raise the level of political debate".
Flavia Perina, another PdL deputy, pointed out that posing showgirls as candidates was "a retrograde step". She said the move was harmful for serious women candidates like Renata Polverini, a trade union leader.
"You cannot, on the one hand, put forward strong women candidates with a solid political background, and on the other put showgirls on the electoral lists," the Australian quoted Perina, as saying.
"Is is possible that we have learnt nothing in this party?" Sofia Ventura, a political scientist at Bologna University and PdL activist, said.
She added that Berlusconi was "out of touch with modern realities and with what women represent in our society today". (ANI)