– Berlusconi’s gaffes, quips and pranks (Reuters, Nov 9, 2011):
Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has announced that he will step down after a new stability package is approved in parliament, has a sense of humor that often lands him in trouble. Here are some of his memorable quotes. NOV 2011: Berlusconi comments on the state of Italy’s economy. “Life in Italy is life in a prosperous country. We see that on every occasion, consumption has not gone down, the restaurants are full, you have trouble booking seats on airplanes, holiday areas are totally booked out on long weekends. I don’t think that if you went to live in Italy that Italy is feeling anything that could resemble a serious crisis.”
OCT 2011: In remarks to party deputies in parliament, Berlusconi suggests his ruling PDL party should rename itself “Forza Gnocca!,” a play on the name of his original Forza Italia! (Go Italy!) party, using a slang term for female genitals.
SEPT 2011: In widely reported wiretapped conversations, Berlusconi brags of fending off a line of young women outside his door and “doing only eight girls, because I couldn’t do more.”
NOV 2010: “As always, I work without interruption and if occasionally I happen to look a beautiful girl in the face, it’s better to like beautiful girls than to be gay,” he tells a meeting at a motorcycle industry show in Milan.
APRIL 2009: During a visit to survivors of an earthquake in the central Abruzzo region, who were staying in emergency tents, Berlusconi says: “They should look at it as a weekend of camping.”
NOV 2008: Berlusconi hails Barack Obama as “handsome, young and also suntanned,” after he was elected the United States’ first black president.
FEB 2006: “I am the Jesus Christ of politics,” Italian media quote Berlusconi as telling supporters. “I am a patient victim, I put up with everyone, I sacrifice myself for everyone.”
FEB 2006: “Only Napoleon did more than I have done,” he tells a TV talk show. “But I am definitely taller.” JAN 2006: Berlusconi promises to give up sex until the next election. “Thank you dear Father Massimiliano,” he tells a preacher who praised him for defending family values. “I’ll try not to let you down and I promise you two and a half months of complete sexual abstinence until April 9.”
JUNE 2005: Berlusconi says he used his charms to persuade Finland’s president, Tarja Halonen, to give up her country’s claim to host the new European Food Safety Authority. “I had to use all my playboy tactics, even if they have not been used for some time,” he said. Finnish ambassador protests.
SEPT 2004: “Mussolini never killed anyone. Mussolini sent people on holiday in (internal) exile,” Berlusconi tells Britain’s Spectator magazine, replying “yes” when asked if he thought the World War Two dictator was “benign.”
JULY 2003: “Mr Schulz, I know there is in Italy a man producing a film on the Nazi concentration camps. I would like to suggest you for the role of Kapo. You’d be perfect,” Berlusconi told socialist German lawmaker Martin Schulz, who was heckling him during his debut at the European Parliament. A kapo was a concentration camp inmate who was given privileges for supervising prisoner work gangs.
JUNE 2003: “One citizen is equal to another (in the eyes of the law) but perhaps this one is slightly more equal than the others, given that 50 percent of Italians have given him the responsibility of governing the country,” he says, referring to himself, during an appearance at his corruption trial in Milan.
DEC 2002: “The most keen can certainly find a second job, maybe unofficial,” Berlusconi says, encouraging laid-off Fiat workers to seek employment on the black market.
FEB 2002: During a group photograph at an informal EU summit in Spain, Berlusconi raises two fingers behind the head of the Spanish foreign minister, Josep Pique, in the traditional Latin gesture for a cuckold.
OCT 2001: Berlusconi causes an outcry in the Muslim world when he says the West should be aware of its own “superiority.” “We should be conscious of the superiority of our civilization, which consists of a value system that has given people widespread prosperity in those countries that embrace it, and guarantees respect for human rights and religion,” he said. “This respect certainly does not exist in the Islamic countries.”