The leader of Italian right Mr. Silvio Berlusconi was forced to stop and sit down for some time while presenting his candidates yesterday in Rome.
Mr. Berlusconi’s press officers immediately released the following statement: ‘President Silvio Berlusconi is more than well. He just sat down after a long and demanding speech, delivered while he was standing, one hour and a half long. There was no fainting, no illness, absolutely nothing’.
However, the episode has the potential to remind the Italian people that Mr. Berlusconi is 76.
Not a big deal in a country where life expectancy is well over 80 (but about 79 for men), the President of the Republic is 87 and Mr. Giulio Andreotti still sit in the Senate at 94.
But Mr. Berlusconi is a figure which inspires love and hatred, and everything regarding him is subject to the closest scrutiny. Moreover, his credibility is constantly put in doubt abroad. Finally, young politicians have suddenly become fashionable in Italy: the next Parliament will be one of the youngest in Europe, according to newspaper La Stampa.
In short, there are all the premises for Berlusconi’s age and health to become a contentious political issue.