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Europe

Berlusconi's divorce ignites political firestorm in Italy

After nearly 30 years of marriage, Silvio Berlusconi's wife reportedly wants a divorce. Veronica Lario's accusations against her husband have ignited a political firestorm in Italy.

Then Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, right, and his wife Veronica Lario

Berlusconi said he's going through a "painful period" in his private life

Berlusconi's wife Veronica Lario has confirmed she is seeking a divorce from the media mogul-turned politician.

"I have been forced to take this step, I don't want to add anything else," La Stampa newspaper quoted Lario as saying, adding she had already contacted a lawyer.

The couple married in 1980 and have three children, all in their 20s. Lario, 52, is Berlusconi's second wife.

Last week, Lario publicly voiced outrage over reports that Berlusconi's political party was lining up TV showgirls and starlets as European Parliament candidates. Berlusconi's decision to attend the 18th birthday party of the daughter of one of his business associates in Naples also infuriated Lario.

It's all political

Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi with Miss Italy 2008 Miriam Leone

Berlusconi reportedly has a weak spot for beautiful women

Lario took the unusual step last week of writing an open letter to newspapers complaining about her husband's choices for candidates from his People of Freedom party to stand in European Union elections set for June. Some are reportedly attractive young women with no political experience, including a television actress and a former Miss Italy candidate.

The opposition said it plans to use the divorce to try and turn public opinion against the conservative premier.

"Let's leave the hypocrisy behind and say it clearly: Berlusconi's divorce is a political issue and an opportunity," said Mario Adinolfi, a member of the main opposition Democratic Party. "The person who knows him best says 'he's not right' or 'he is cavorting with minors'."

Berlusconi's supporters have already lashed out at Lario, accusing her of harming not just her husband but the entire Italian government.

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