LAST week I wrote about the curse of celebrity politicians like Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson.
I was bemoaning the spread of “personalities” in politics, whose main strength is to give good quotes.
Well, if Londoners have it bad it’s nothing compared to Italians.
They’ve just voted in Silvio Berlusconi to lead their country for the third time.
The AC Milan owner is reputedly Italy’s richest man, and he’s most certainly a character.
Like fellow Italian Claudio Ranieri, who had a colourful spell in charge of Chelsea, Mr Berlusconi may not be the best man for the job, but he certainly gives the best quotes.
I can imagine political reporters from London to Lisbon tossing their trilbys in the air in delight at the news that he’s back in charge. Those European Union summits won’t be so dull any more.
Here’s a little sample of what we have to look forward to:
Mr Berlusconi is a man with a high opinion of himself, saying in 2006: “I am the Jesus Christ of politics. I am a patient victim, I put up with everyone, I sacrifice myself for everyone.”
During this year’s election campaign he boasted that his Latin was so good that he could have a conversation with Julius Caesar. I presume the only topic of conversation between the pair would be Silvio Berlusconi.
He also has a fondness for the ladies, once telling other European leaders at a summit: “let’s talk about football and women.” He then turned to German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder – who is on wife number four – and asked him to start the discussion.
Berlusconi’s high opinion of himself landed him in hot water with the Finns when he got in a dispute with them about which of their countries should host the European Food Safety Authority.
He boasted that he smoothed over the difficulty with the female president of Finland by using his “playboy charms”.
And there are many, many more Berlusconi clangers, some of them not suitable for a family newspaper.
He may be entertaining, but is he really a suitable man to lead a major European country?