Nearly half of Italians want Berlusconi out: Poll

Nearly half of Italians want embattled PM Silvio Berlusconi to resign.

Updated: Jan 24, 2011, 00:49 AM IST

Rome: Nearly half of Italians want
embattled Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is embroiled
in yet another sex scandal, to resign, according to a poll
carried by the leading Corriere della Serra daily on Sunday.

Forty-nine per cent of 600 people surveyed on
Wednesday and Thursday said the 74-year-old premier should
quit, while 45 per cent disagreed.

Berlusconi has so far managed to cling to the support
of his key allies despite charges by Milan prosecutors that he
consorted with prostitutes and other women he kept in
rent-free luxury apartments, as well as accusations that he
paid for sex with an underage disco dancer named Ruby.

While frequenting prostitutes is not a crime in Italy,
having sex with one under the age of 18 has been an
imprisonable offence since Berlusconi`s right-wing government
voted a law against it in 2006.

The Corriere della Serra said the sex scandal appears
to have little impact on the standing of the various parties
among voters, with Berlusconi`s People of Freedom (PDL) party
retaining 30 per cent support.

The only tangible effect, it added, has been "mounting
(public) estrangement from politics".

Milan`s prosecutors revealed their investigation last
Friday, just a day after a top court partially stripped the
prime minister of political immunity and experts warned the
scandal might force the government to early elections.

The opposition PD party said it will start petitioning
for Berlusconi`s resignation and hopes to collect 10 million
signatures from disgruntled Italians.

An open letter yet to be released condemns the prime
minister for "dishonouring Italy in the eyes of the world"
when "Italy needs to look onwards to finally face up to its
(other) problems."

But Berlusconi`s key political ally Umberto Bossi --
head of the anti-immigrant and populist Northern League Party
and his partner in the centre-right coalition -- came to his