Three topless feminists launched themselves at prime-ministerial candidate Silvio Berlusconi, as he arrived at a polling station in Milan to vote in Italy’s two-day general election.
The three young women had the slogan “Basta Berlusconi” (Enough with Berlusconi) written on their backs, said an Agence France-Presse reporter who was at the scene.
While voters queued at a polling station in a Milan school, the topless trio broke through a crowd of journalists.
The women proceeded to jump over some tables before attempting to lunge at Berlusconi, but they failed to reach the former Italian prime minister.
The screaming women were quickly detained by police and dragged away from the chaotic scene.
Italian media reports say the trio were members of the Femen protest group.
The group have been demonstrating — usually topless — for women’s rights in pro-democracy and anti-corruption protests across Russia, Ukraine, and the UK since 2010.
Sky News reports that the polls opened in Italy earlier than expected as an increasingly contentious battle threatened gridlock Europe’s fourth largest economy in a political impasse.
Italy is currently in the midst of its worst recession in two decades, with unemployment above 11% and rising, while the country’s public debt is second only to Greece in the eurozone.
The present administration currently led by the unelected economist Mario Monti has introduced deeply unpopular austerity measures that combined budget cuts and tax increases.
But while support for Monti’s fragile coalition of centrist parties has stalled, Berlusconi’s anti-EU, anti-austerity position has garnered voter approval.
The recently engaged, Berlusconi, 76, is leading a center-right coalition in the election and polls reportedly indicate he will come second to the center-left’s Pier Luigi Bersani, leader of the Democratic Party.
According to Sky News, however, the Italian electoral system may not even deliver a clear working majority for any single party.
Despite the cloud of scandal that surrounds Berlusconi, he may yet hold the balance of power as any law needs the approval of both houses — the lower Chamber of Deputies and the Senate —due to a law brought in by him that gives extra seats in the upper house to the most populated regions.