Italian former Prime Minister and Forza Italia (FI) leader, Silvio Berlusconi, attends the Rai program 'Che tempo che fa' in Milan, Italy, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018.(Flavio Lo Scalzo/ANSA via AP)
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At a recent business conference, Silvio Berlusconi puzzled his audience by boasting that, as prime minister, he had made sure Italians got monthly pensions of 1,000 liras – about the cost of an espresso.According to a Demos poll published Friday, Berlusconi came a lowly 8th on the list of Italy's most respected political leaders, with an approval rating of 26 percent.Italy's fiscal jungle is estimated to impose around 100 taxes, not hundreds of thousands.Berlusconi's continued appeal to part of the electorate, borne out in poll scores of roughly 16 percent for Forza Italia, often bewilders non-Italians.In the last parliamentary elections in 2013, the League took 4 percent of the vote, but polls predict it could win 14 percent next month, within striking distance of Forza Italia.Berlusconi resigned as prime minister at the height of the 2011 debt crisis – a humiliating retreat that most commentators at the time assumed marked the end of his political career.
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