Vote-catching surname of Berlusconi daughter may appear on ballot paper

Barbara Berlusconi set to be Forza Italia candidate for European elections

Barbara Berlusconi:  no experience of politics. Photograph: Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Barbara Berlusconi: no experience of politics. Photograph: Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Thu, Mar 20, 2014, 01:00


On the day after Italy’s

supreme court confirmed the ineligibility of centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi to stand in this summer’s European elections, his Forza Italia party yesterday appeared determined to ensure that his vote-catching surname remains on the ballot sheet.

Late on Tuesday, Mr Berlusconi suffered another judicial reverse when the supreme court upheld a court ruling of last summer, banning him from public office for two years. That ban came within the context of his conviction for tax fraud in the Mediaset case, which also resulted in a four-year prison sentence (reduced to one year).

With the European elections just two months away, Forza Italia clearly finds itself in difficulty. Mr Berlusconi’s party has always seemed very much a “company party”, built by the media tycoon around his own charismatic personality and deprived of a genuine grass-roots base. Forza Italia party congresses – few and far between – have tended to have a North Korean feel about them with “delegates” going along to applaud the decisions taken for them by their Great Leader.

In other words, if the ballot sheet carried the name Forza Italia but not that of Mr Berlusconi, then the party’s vote could collapse. One solution would be for the next generation of Berlusconis to step into the breach.

Commentators suggested the task could fall to Barbara Berlusconi (29), known for her involvement in family football club AC Milan and someone with no experience of politics.

Confirmation Forza Italia would welcome her candidacy came from former minister Stella Gelmini, who told Radio Capital: “The decision will be taken in the next few days. If Barbara or [half sister] Marina or both decide to contest the elections, it will be as the result of a careful decision to defend the path that has been carved out by Silvio Berlusconi. In any case, they would both be candidates who would be more than favourably received by Forza Italia.”