'Showgirl' Crack Is Berlusconi's Latest Gaffe

Italian business leader disturbed at PM's characterization of her
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2009 3:22 PM CDT
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi compared industrial leader Emma Marcegaglia to a "showgirl."   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Emma Marcegaglia runs Italy’s industrialist association and just might be the country’s most powerful woman. But that didn’t stop Silvio Berlusconi from likening her to a showgirl today, Reuters reports. Speaking to Marcegaglia’s organization, the gaffe-prone Italian premier recalled when “an usher told me a showgirl was there to see me. She was in great form, very elegant.”

Later, at another meeting, Marcegaglia responded, “Frankly, I have nothing against showgirls, but I prefer (to be known as) a serious person, a leader.” Velina, the epithet Berlusconi used to describe Marcegaglia, has become a buzzword for young, attractive women seeking public office. A more common nickname for Marcegaglia, the Times of London adds, is “Steel Lady.”