Berlusconi says electing rich candidates would avert scandal

Ex-premier gives recipe for reform

Berlusconi says electing rich candidates would avert scandal

Padua, January 2 - Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi told radio listeners on Wednesday that the way to trounce political corruption was to elect wealthy candidates who "don't need to enrich themselves through politics". "To avoid scandalous phenomena we need to put people on the ballot who have their own money," he said in an interview on the "News Today" program on the radio station Canale Italia on Wednsday. "People are needed who are protagonists of civil life and who are about to underwrite a pact to reduce the number of representatives in the Chamber and the Senate by 50%, and at the same time halve their salaries, and (cap) a parliamentary career to a maximum of two legislatures for everyone. With these decisions, one can truly speak of a drive for renewal," Berlusconi added. Berlusconi's vast media holdings have long rendered him one of Italy's wealthiest people. Berlusconi currently faces his own battery of scandals, including a first degree conviction in October for an off-shore tax-evasion scheme at Mediaset, and an on-going trial in which he is accused of paying an underaged Moroccan runaway for sex, and of abusing his office by telephoning police on her behalf when she was held on an accusation of robbing a friend. Berlusconi has been elected premier three times, served one legislature to completion, and has dominated Italy's centre-right since 1994. Due to the unstable nature of Italian parliament and the frequent fall of its governments, representatives very seldom serve out an entire legislature, although they may remain representatives and political leaders throughout their careers.

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