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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 April 2006, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
Italy campaign plumbs new depths
Centre-left coalition leader Romano Prodi (L) Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (R)
Romano Prodi (left) and Silvio Berlusconi have traded insults

Insults and put-downs are a trademark of election campaigns in many countries, and Italy is no exception.

However, some of the comments made by political leaders in the current campaign have reached new lows.

Here is a selection:

Opposition leader Romano Prodi on Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in a face-to-face TV debate on 3 April:

The prime minister clings to data in the way a drunkard clings to lamp-posts - not for illumination, but to keep him standing up.

Berlusconi's response to Prodi during the same debate:

Prodi is like a useful idiot - he lends his cheery parish priest face to the left, which is 70% made up of former communists.

Prodi on Berlusconi, who is said to be Italy's richest man, and his party Forza Italia:

Forza Italia's Hueys, Leweys and Deweys defending Uncle Scrooge are pathetic.

Berlusconi on Piero Fassino, leader of the main opposition party Democrats of the Left:

Fassino is very sought after by the lobby of funeral directors, they want him as their main promoter.

Berlusconi on left-wing voters at a conference of retailers on 4 April:

I trust the intelligence of the Italian people too much to think that there are so many pricks around who would vote against their own best interests.

Neo-Fascist leader Alessandra Mussolini addressing the trans-gender communist candidate Vladimir Luxuria during a TV debate:

Better to be a Fascist than a poofter.

Italian Communist leader Oliviero Diliberto on the ruling coalition:

We must get rid of these scoundrels in government.

Defence Minister Antonio Martino on the opposition:

We have the duty to prevent Italy ending up in the hands of this gang of scoundrels.

Roberto Calderoli, leading member of the right-wing Northern League, on left-wing plans to allow same-sex unions:

Enough of these absurd demands by poofters for privileges.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

The press in Italy
04 Jan 06 |  Europe

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