Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is a figure probably more suitable for a magazine such as The Economist, which featured him in a 2001 cover story titled "Why Silvio Berlusconi is unfit to lead Italy," than on the cover of Rolling Stone. But next month the magazine's Italian edition will celebrate him "in reward for his rock and roll lifestyle." Carlo Antonelli, the magazine's editor, justified his qualifications to the UK's Mail:
‘Every year we chose a rock star of the year and in the past we have had Rod Stewart, Brian Jones and Keith Richards and Oasis.
'This year there was no competition and there was a unanimous decision that it should be Berlusconi as this year he has not been out of the spotlight for one reason or another, especially with his parties.
‘It was all down to lifestyle and Berlusconi’s daily life which has a spectacular fury and is inimitable and as a result he has found himself throughout the year on the international stage.’
The cover was designed by Shepard Farey, the artist responsible for last year's ubiquitous Barack Obama poster image (borrowed from an Associated Press photo), but the leaders couldn't be more different. (Berlusconi famously complimented Obama on his "suntan" two days after he was elected President.)
Like most other Italian politicians, Berlusconi, one of the country's richest men due to his extensive finance and media holdings, has long had to deny associations with the mafia. As Prime Minister, however, he has more recently had to wrestle with sexier allegations involving a teenage underwear model and upscale prostitutes. He was also criticized this spring for choosing cute young female candidates—nearly entirely lacking in political experience—to represent his political party in European Parliament elections. Berlusconi's popularity has remained high throughout all the drama, a divorce, and a long series of gaffes, blunders, and outright insults.
Who said politics was just rock 'n' roll without the fun?