Silvio Berlusconi won another term as Italy's prime minister on April 14, despite being shorter than his rivals. Berlusconi, who is just five feet six inches tall, or a mere 1.71 meters in metric units, is routinely portrayed in political cartoons as small or wearing high heels. This perplexes him. "I don't understand why all the caricaturists portray me as a dwarf whereas the others are allowed a normal height," said the tiny billionaire at a rally in March.
Berlusconi has been prime minister twice before, though he has been on the sidelines since 2006 when he lost to Romano Prodi, who is taller. But after Prodi's government failed, requiring new elections, Berlusconi started to compare himself to Prodi, at least in terms of height. "I am taller than [Vladimir] Putin and [Nicolas] Sarkozy," he insisted. "I'm tall like Prodi."
Berlusconi was referring to a newspaper article that had discussed the stature of various world leaders (thus wasting valuable space on this meaningless statistic rather than reporting on important issues like the candidates' bowling averages). According to the article, Berlusconi is in fact taller than the Russian or French leader; Sarkozy is just 1.65 meters tall, Putin is 1.67, and Berlusconi 1.71.
But there is no doubt he is not "tall like Prodi," as he claimed. Prodi made that clear in the 2006 campaign, after Berlusconi attacked him for being reluctant to debate him. Berlusconi said that, if necessary, he would go on TV and debate with an empty chair. "He should jump up on it," Prodi replied. "It would give him more stature."
Link: AFP via Yahoo! News