When asked by an Italian radio to comment on the composition of the Spanish cabinet of Prime Minister Zapatero – with nine female and eight male ministers – Mr Berlusconi suggested it is “too pink.”
“Now he [Mr Zapatero] has asked for it, he will have problems leading them,” said the Italian leader. “In Italy there is a prevalence of men in politics and therefore it is not so easy to find women who are ready for the government,” he added.
Unsurprisingly, the comments did not go down to well in Spain. According to The Telegraph:
Magdalena Alvarez, the infrastructure minister in the Socialist government, described Mr Berlusconi’s remarks as “absolutely inappropriate” and an “offence to citizens”.
“Many of us women would never belong to a government headed by Mr Berlusconi,” she said.
Others urged Mr Berlusconi to follow Mr Zapatero’s lead.
“In Italy, as in Spain, there are enough women sufficiently qualified, intelligent and capable of being ministers or occupying other government posts,” said Elena Valenciano, the Spanish Socialist Party’s secretary for international relations.
Berlusconi has made an attempt at scrambling back on his remarks, but this is even more offensive in its own way:
“It’s possible that the female members take a series of measures stemming from the everyday life, from the concrete reality of being a mother, a wife and perhaps also a working woman,” Mr Berlusconi told reporters, according to AP.
So men make good ministers because they are good politicians; women bring personal experience of being a mother, wife, and, well, it’s a touch unlikely, but maybe a worker, to the table. Patronising much?