Berlusconi forges controversial alliance
With parliamentary elections due in Italy in less than two months the Prime Minister has announced a controversial new political alliance.
Silvio Berlusconi has joined forces with the right wing populist Social Alternative party - led by Alessandra Mussolini, granddaughter of the facist dictator.
Though welcoming Mussolini to his centre right House of Liberties coalition, Berlusconi opposed the inclusion of fringe extreme right wingers on the Social Alternative party list.
Apparently alluding to the legalisation of gay marriage in neighbouring Spain,which is led by socialist Jose Luis Rodgriguez Zapatero,
Mussolini explained why she opted for the alliance.
"It was important to make a choice in favour of the House of Liberties against a communist Zapaterian drift that undermines society's basic institution, which is the family," she said, apparently alluding to the legalisation of gay marriage in neighbouring Spain, which is led by socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodgriguez Zapatero.
It is not only Berlusconi's new choice of partners which is causing a stir among the left in Italy. An opinion poll commissioned by the Prime Minister has also scandalised some in the opposition headed by Romano Prodi. Instead of calling on Italian firms to do the job, Berlusconi chose an American company and unlike domestic surveys it showed him slightly in the lead.
It predicted Berlusconi was two points ahead of his rival Prodi. For weeks polls taken by Italian researchers have put him some four percentage points behind.