The Italian Almanac

Berlusconi and Chirac

Italian News - July 11

If Jacques Chirac and Silvio Berlusconi didn't have enough political setbacks to make them unpopular among European voters, they can now add their disdain for the food in Finland.

Nothing has energized the Finns more this summer than the French President's assertion last week that Finnish cuisine is the worst, according to the Liberation newspaper. The Italian Prime Minister last month said he "has had to endure Finnish food" when visiting. Finnish specialties include pickled raw herring and liver casserole.

Chirac's popularity is already sliding after his government lost a referendum on the European constitution, polls show. Asked if Chirac was able to push Europe in the right direction, 37 percent of respondents said "yes," down from 55 percent in July 2004, and 54 percent replied "no."

Berlusconi, meanwhile, would lose an election to opposition leader Romano Prodi, according to polls. If an election were held now, Prodi would beat Berlusconi with 61 percent of the vote, according to a poll by Trieste-based SWG.