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Berlusconi: Italy gov't stable despite scandals

Berlusconi: Italy gov't stable despite scandals

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Monday that his government is stable and highly popular despite the allegations that have engulfed the conservative leader over his purported relationships with young models and starlets.
Speaking at a news conference in Naples Berlusconi said he felt the need to dispel suggestions in the international media that his government would not survive the scandal.
"I feel I must give reassurances on this," he said. "My government, our government is the most stable and solid in the West."
Berlusconi has been on the defensive since his wife announced two months ago her intention to divorce him, citing his selection of showgirls for European Parliament candidates and his attendance at the birthday party of an 18-year-old model in Naples.
The premier insisted there was nothing scandalous in his relationship with Noemi Letizia, whom he has said was the daughter of an old friend from political circles. He said he went to the party because he happened to be in Naples that day.
Since then a series of allegations have emerged linking Berlusconi to other young women.
In the latest case, a high-end prostitute claimed that she and at least one other woman were recruited and paid by a Berlusconi acquaintance to attend parties at his residence and that she spent a night with the premier.
Berlusconi has said he has never paid a woman for sex and dismissed all the allegations as lies fabricated by the opposition and left-leaning media.
On Monday, Berlusconi held a news conference to present the program of next week's Group of Eight summit, which was moved from the Sardinian island of La Maddalena to the central town of L'Aquila in a show of support after an earthquake devastated the area in April.
The premier cited a poll showing his approval rating is above 62 percent. Though Berlusconi has emerged with his popularity largely intact, the numbers may not be so strong. A poll published Sunday showed Berlusconi's popularity has hovered around 50 percent in the first half of the year.
Highlighting the strength of his center-right coalition, Berlusconi noted his forces have emerged victorious from European Parliament elections and two rounds of administrative balloting this month.
The three-time premier also said the conservatives were held together by a "brotherly" friendship between party leaders in the grouping. In 1994, Berlusconi's government was brought down when key ally Umberto Bossi abandoned the coalition with his anti-immigrant Northern League party.