Silvio Berlusconi playing the bunga bunga card to become Italy’s next president

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It has become shorthand for the alleged sex parties that Mr Berlusconi held at his mansion near Milan while serving as prime minister, in which showgirls and starlets performed stripteases and danced around a statue of Priapus, the god of fertility. 

More than a decade after they took place, Mr Berlusconi is still on trial for allegedly bribing the young women to lie to investigators about the nature of the parties. 

One of them was a teenage Moroccan belly dancer, Karima El Mahroug, who went by the name of Ruby the Heart Stealer.

Supporters of Mr Berlusconi’s bid for the presidency took out a full-page ad in Il Giornale, a newspaper that his family owns.

Beneath a photo of Mr Berlusconi as a much younger man, they described him as “a good and generous person” who has five children and 15 grandchildren. He is “a friend of everyone, an enemy of no-one,” the ad proclaimed.

On the international front, the advertisement described him as “the most appreciated and applauded (eight minutes) Western leader in the history of the American Congress.”

He was also the man, supposedly, “who ended the Cold War” thanks to his efforts to reconcile former US President George W. Bush and Valdimir Putin in 2002.

Matteo Salvini, the head of the hard-Right League party and a member of the current coalition, said on Thursday that the entire centre-Right would support Mr Berlusconi’s candidacy.

“The centre-Right is firm and unanimous in its support for Berlusconi,” Mr Salvini said in a statement.

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