By Tuesday, lawmaker and prominent art critic Vittorio Sgarbi, whom Berlusconi had tasked with scouting for support, indicated that prospects for nailing down sufficient votes were looking shaky.
Italy is poised to elect a new president, meant to serve as the nation’s moral compass and foster unity by rising above the political fray.
Silvio Berlusconi thinks he fits the bill.
The billionaire media mogul and three-time prime minister, who entered politics nearly 30 years ago with his Forza Italia party, is maneuvering to add Italy’s highest office to his resume.
No matter that he had a tax fraud conviction which got him expelled from the Senate. As for his moral example, the 85-year-old has long shrugged off outrage over his dalliances with young women at his “bunga bunga” soirees, once declaring “I’m no saint.” In the most notorious case, he was ultimately acquitted of charges that he allegedly paid for sex with an underage girl.
From his latest villa on the Appia Antica, the ancient Roman consular road, Berlusconi, has for weeks been lobbying lawmakers outside his center-right fold for their votes when they elect the nation’s next head of state for a seven-year term on Jan. 24.
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