She is famed for being the first woman to uncover her breasts live on Italian television, for recording a song entirely about the male organ, and for offering sex to Osama bin Laden (in return, she said, for giving up terrorism).
But now Ilona Staller, better known as Cicciolina, is the unlikely centre of a bitter row over the cost to ordinary Italians of the perks enjoyed by their country’s tens of thousands of politicians. It emerged on Monday that the Hungarian, who starred in almost 40 hardcore pornographic movies, will soon be enjoying a €39,000-a-year pension, provided by the taxpayers of her adoptive homeland.
The stipend, which is for life, is her reward for labouring as a member of parliament for all of five years, from 1987 to 1992. Staller was elected for the libertarian Radical party and sponsored a number of mainly sex-related bills, including one to set up “love parks and hotels”.
Her entitlement is no different from that of any other one-term politician in Italy. But their pensions have come under resentful scrutiny at a time when politicians are seeking painful sacrifices from the rest of society to prevent a Greek-style debt crisis: last week, parliament gave final approval to an austerity package that includes an increase in VAT and provision for big cuts in income tax allowances…
According to one recent estimate, Italy’s cohorts of politicians cost the taxpayers almost €1.3 billion a year. With four levels of government – national, regional, provincial and municipal – the country has an inordinately large number of elected representatives.
But that has not stopped them from giving themselves a distinctly comfortable lifestyle. According to the Italian parliament website, the gross salary of a member of the lower house is €140,000 a year plus an attendance allowance of up to €42,000 and a contribution towards expenses of up to €63,000. They are also entitled to free public transport, free air and sea travel within Italy and exemption from motorway tolls.
Cicciolina played by the official rules of the country at the time and deserves her share of the spoils. I guess. All the other prostitutes and pimps will certainly have their own political parties covering their buns.
They’re no less corrupt and undeserving than our own flavors of politicians – from local to national. They call it service to the nation – and we will be servicing them all for decades to come. While working people have to struggle to get affordable prescriptions.