Silvio Berlusconi quotes: Top 5 outrageous comments from former Italian PM

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Today Italy’s parliament will begin the voting process to determine who the country’s next President will be. Although originally listed as a candidate, Silvio Berlusconi revealed on Saturday he was stepping aside from the contest in the spirit of “national responsibility”. In the past, Mr Berlusconi has been famed for making his views known in blunt, colourful, sometimes combative language. So, what are his top five most outrageous quotes?

On himself

“I am the Jesus Christ of politics. I sacrifice myself for everyone.” – 2006.

During a campaign rally nearly 16 years ago, the 85-year-old was criticised by politicians from all parties in Italy for making the above comment.

Mr Berlusconi was accused of causing offence to the majority Catholic community in Italy, with officials at the Vatican chastising him for saying the words in jest.

Scandals over his private life

“When asked if they would like to have sex with me, 30 percent of women said, ‘Yes’, while the other 70 percent replied, ‘What, again?'” – 2011

The ex-four-time Prime Minister of Italy made the comments when allegations emerged of his dealings with younger women and prostitutes.

Later on, as accusations persisted about escorts and his infamous “Bunga, bunga” parties, Mr Berlusconi admitted: “I am not a saint, you’ve all understood that.”

On Italy’s debt crisis

Speaking on August 13, 2011, as he announced a raft of new austerity measures, he said: “Our hearts are bleeding.

“This government had bragged that it never put its hands in the pockets of Italians but the world situation changed. We are facing the biggest global challenge.”

However, on November 4 2011, he told a news conference at the end of a G20 summit: “The life in Italy is the life of a wealthy country: consumptions haven’t diminished, it’s hard to find seats on planes, our restaurants are full of people.”

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The L’Aquila earthquake

Overall, Mr Berlusconi won praise for his handling of an earthquake that hit central Italy on April 6, 2009.

However, he did come in for censure when he told survivors they should consider sleeping in emergency tents like a “weekend of camping”.

More than 300 people were killed by the disaster and 65,000 plus were left homeless.

On Mussolini

“Mussolini never killed anyone. Mussolini used to send people on vacation in internal exile.” – September 2003

Mr Berlusconi made the comment during an interview with journalists after one compared Iraq after Saddam with Italy in the years after Mussolini.

He later clarified his comment saying in a news conference: “I didn’t accept his comparison, or the comparison of my country to another dictator or another dictatorship, that of Saddam Hussein, which provoked millions of deaths.”

Benito Mussolini was the leader of the National Fascist Party and, in 1925, established a dictatorship in Italy.

In 1935, Mussolini ordered the brutal occupation of the African nation Ethiopia, which is considered as one of the precursors to World War 2.

Indeed, his union with Nazi Germany saw Italian Jews persecuted and sent to Adolf Hitler’s concentration camps.

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