Silvio Berlusconi's anguish as he makes a last ditch bid to save his political future

  • 74-year-old tells Senate it would invite economic crisis if he was removed

Despair etched on his face, his head sometimes in his hands, Silvio Berlusconi makes a last ditch bid to save his political future.

The scandal-ridden Italian Prime Minister, who faces a vote of no confidence today, addressed his upper House yesterday to urge the MPs who will help decide his fate to support him.

He warned that bringing down his government would be ‘folly’. Stability, he said, was essential as Italy battles the economic crisis.

Pressure: He holds his head and later, right, looks pained
Pressure: He holds his head and later, right, looks pained as he addresses the Italian upper House

Pressure: He holds his head and later, right, looks pained as he addresses the Italian upper House

Prayer: A reflective moment, left, while he makes his desperate plea to rebel MPs
Prayer: A reflective moment, left, while he makes his desperate plea to rebel MPs

Prayer: A reflective moment, left, while he makes his desperate plea to rebel MPs

‘Criticism is possible but no confidence in government is not,’ Mr Berlusconi said to applause from his MPs and boos from the opposition at the Senate in Rome.

The 74-year-old is expected to win a confidence vote in the Senate, but a second in the lower House hangs on a knife edge.

If he loses, he must resign, ending a colourful reign over eight years.

His ratings have nose-dived following reports of lavish parties and encounters with prostitutes.

Italian Equal Opportunities Minister Mara Carfagna
Italy's Minister of Justice Angelino Alfano

Playing their cards close to their chests: Italian Equal Opportunities Minister Mara Carfagna and the Minister of Justice Angelino Alfano chat on mobile phones in the Senate

The string of sex scandals that have engulfed Berluscino in the last two years alone have included claims of affairs with four women.

The most damaging was his dalliance with escort girl Nadia Macri, who claims she was paid 10,000 euros (£8,500) to spend two nights with Berlusconi.

She revealed details of his now infamous 'bunga bunga' parties and declared in a TV interview that they were 'full of young girls'.

Macri also said the Italian Prime Minister told her 'I am the dream of Italians'.

Karima Keyek, the Moroccan model allegedly linked with Italian PM Berlusconi is seen at a restaurant in Genoa
nadia macri

The women in his life: Karima Keyek, the Moroccan model allegedly linked with Italian PM Berlusconi is seen at a restaurant in Genoa and Nadia Macri, who claimed he had paid her the equivalent of £10,000 for sex at his villa in Sardinia last year

Her claims echoed those of another escort girl, Patrizia D’Addario, who revealed she was among several call girls who had been invited to one of his parties and spent the night with him.

Another high-profile scandal followed when it emerged that belly dancer Karima Keyek, 18, had spent the evening at his house when she was just 17 and was given cash, a diamond necklace and a car by him.

Miss Keyak insisted that no sex took place between them and that the perma-tanned media tycoon turned politician was 'like a father' to her the whole evening.

Bunga bunga: Silvio Berlusconi, pictured on a stroll in Sardinia in 2004 with two unidentified women has cultivated his playboy image

Bunga bunga: Silvio Berlusconi, pictured on a stroll in Sardinia in 2004 with two unidentified women has enjoyed his playboy image but the last 18 months have seen him embroiled in sex scandals

But questions were raised about the relationship after it emerged that in May Berlusconi had called Milan police and asked for Miss Keyek to be released after she was arrested for stealing €3,000 from a friend.

He further enraged people by declaring in public, when questioned about the relationship: 'It’s better to be passionate about beautiful girls than be gay.'

Mr Berlusconi also had a questionable relationship with 19-year-old underwear model Noemi Letizia.

Job done? Silvio Berlusconi leaves the senate after warning that ousting him would be 'political folly'

Job done? Silvio Berlusconi leaves the senate after warning that ousting him would be 'political folly'