Berlusconi's wife goes public, again, over his eye for ladies
The letter, the second such public outburst from Lario, dealt mainly with Berlusconi's choice of candidates from his People of Freedom party to stand in European Union elections set for June.Rome -- Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's well-known penchant for pretty women is a source of "suffering" for his wife, she wrote in an open letter published Wednesday.
"I want it to be clear that I and my children are the victims and not accomplices in this situation. We must put up with it and that makes us suffer," Veronica Lario wrote in the letter splashed across the Italian press.
The letter, the second such public outburst from Lario, dealt mainly with Berlusconi's choice of candidates from his People of Freedom party to stand in European Union elections set for June.
Some are reportedly pretty young women with no political experience, including a television actress and a former Miss Italy candidate.
"The presence of pretty women in politics is neither a plus nor a minus," said Lario, a 52-year-old former stage actress who is 20 years Berlusconi's junior and his second wife.
"But behind the facade of curvaceous feminine beauty, what is even more serious is (Berlusconi's) impudence and lack of reserve ... that offend the credibility of all women," said Lario, adding: "especially those who have always been in the front line defending their rights."
"Someone wrote that all this is no more than some extra fun for the emperor," Lario wrote. "I agree, what is in the papers is shameless rubbish, all in the name of power."
Berlusconi reacted to the letter by saying his wife should not believe the "left-wing press."
"Even my wife believed the papers, it's a shame," the flamboyant self-made billionaire told reporters during a visit to Warsaw. "It is clearly a manoeuvre by the left-wing press."
The prime minister said: "We want to rejuvenate our political class with cultivated, educated people who are committed to being present for every vote, who don't smell bad and are not poorly dressed, unlike certain people from other parties."
One of the reported candidates is 36-year-old redhead Angela Sozio, a former contestant on the Italian version of "Big Brother" who was photographed two years ago strolling hand-in-hand with Berlusconi at his villa in Sardinia.
Lario is rarely seen in public with Berlusconi, with whom she has had three children.
Berlusconi, a cruise ship crooner in his younger days, is renowned for verbal gaffes of all kinds, including sexist remarks.
Two Italian lawmakers last month filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights "because of his repeated statements that offend female dignity," according to Anna Paola Concia of the left-wing Democratic Party.
Concia, reacting to the new public spat between Lario and Berlusconi, told AFP: "Once again, Mr Berlusconi's attitude is an affront to women, which gives Italy a bad image."
In January 2007, Berlusconi issued a public apology to Lario after she learned through the press of his verbal dalliance with a pretty young lawmaker.
"Please forgive me, and take this public testimony ... as an act of love, one among many," he said after Lario wrote a letter to the daily La Repubblica demanding his contrition, which she said he had failed to show in private.
Berlusconi came under a hail of criticism in January after he said he wished there were enough soldiers to protect "beautiful girls" from rape.
He said rapes were impossible to prevent "even in a police state," adding: "We would need as many soldiers as there are beautiful girls in Italy, which I think we would never achieve."
Berlusconi said he meant his remarks as a "compliment" to Italian women and arguing that people should "never lose their sense of humour and levity."
Nicknamed Il Cavaliere (The Knight) in Italy, Berlusconi last year offended Spanish women politicians when he said the new Madrid government comprising nine women and eight men was "too pink" and would "be hard to manage."