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Berlusconi's popularity dropping

THE approval rating of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has been dogged by a messy divorce and accusations of cavorting with teenage girls and escorts, has fallen below 50 percent for the first time.

Poll results released yesterday had only 49 percent expressing confidence in him as prime minister, 4 points down from the last time the same group, IPR Marketing, took it in May. Fifty percent said they had "little or no" confidence.

The poll was taken for La Repubblica newspaper, which has been leading demands that Berlusconi clear up aspects of his personal life.

It was published a day after two Websites posted recordings of conversations purported to be between Berlusconi and Patrizia D'Addario, an escort who said she and other women were paid to attend parties at Berlusconi's residence.

In one conversation, a man purported to be Berlusconi says they should both take showers, and whoever finished first should wait in "the big bed."


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