Councillor in 'bunga-bunga' trial under party pressure to resign


IS THE meteoric rise of Lombardy regional councillor Nicole Minetti about to end in an equally abrupt fall?

The glamorous former television showgirl, currently on trial in Milan on charges of having recruited women for Silvio Berlusconi’s infamous “bunga-bunga” nights in Arcore, has this week come under huge pressure from her own party to resign her seat.

The party in question is the Berlusconi-inspired People of Freedom (PDL) party which had the little known Ms Minetti (27) elected out of the blue at regional elections in the spring of 2010, thanks to a “blocked list” proportional representation system.

That is to say that Ms Minetti did not go around the good people of Lombardy, knocking on doors looking for votes. Rather, she was shooed into power at the request of the boss, former prime minister Mr Berlusconi. The problem for her is that the man who put her into office now wants her out.

In view of his ever-more-likely return to active politics in next year’s general election, Mr Berlusconi (75) is busy planning his strategy. Even he can see that he has something of an image problem. Ever an optimist, however, he believes he can create a new, “clean” image for himself.

Thus, Ms Minetti (and presumably others involved in the “bunga- bunga” nights) has been encouraged to leave the political scene.

More than two years after her election, in a fit of Stalinist rewriting of history, senior PDL figures have discovered she was not really a suitable candidate after all.

“Running her in the regionals was perhaps a mistake. She was given a great opportunity but perhaps she has understood that politics is not her thing,” said PDL Lombardy co-ordinator Mario Mantovani, this week.

“She has proved that she is not really suited to politics,” said another PDL figure, deputy Daniela Santanchè.

More realistically, she is not suited to Mr Berlusconi’s vision for his next great political gamble – to extricate himself from the lugubrious shadow of three years of sex scandals. Most observers would argue this is one challenge too far, even for him. Opinion polls showing that up to 82 per cent of Italians judge his return to the political fray as a “negative” would suggest the same conclusion.

In the meantime, there remains a delicate little problem. Ms Minetti shows no sign of wanting to abandon her regional seat, complete with its €12,000 a month (plus considerable perks) salary.

For the last three days, PDL figures have been assuring us that her resignation is on the way.

Not yesterday, it wasn’t.

Cool and elegant as ever, Ms Minetti turned up for a council meeting in Milan yesterday morning, telling reporters that “for the good of everyone”, she had nothing to say.

Could it be that it will require extensive “negotiations” for her to finally leave the political field?