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How does Silvio keep it up?

Loyal support in unusual places keeps Berlusconi in power, despite his exotic love life

By Peter Popham   August 2009

Over the past 20 years many leaders of great power and solidity have been suddenly overthrown. Italy experienced such a moment in 1992 when a national bribery scandal brought down most of its political class. And its current leader, Silvio Berlusconi, has seemed ripe for a judicial variant of the Ceausescu treatment ever since he was first elected in 1994. So what sort of hold does this ageing, lecherous plutocrat have over his people that prevents them getting rid of him?

There has always been ammunition: the alleged mafia connections; opaque financing of his television empire; strong-arm business tactics and…

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