Poll support for Berlusconi's party

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The latest scandal surrounding Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has damaged his public image but support for his party has risen, meaning he could win an early election, a respected pollster said yesterday.

Renato Mannheimer said half of those interviewed thought Mr Berlusconi should resign, but support for his centre-right party had increased.

The poll was conducted after Milan prosecutors alleged that Mr Berlusconi paid for sex with a "significant" number of prostitutes, including a 17-year old nightclub dancer.