(ANSA) - Rome, February 1 - Former premier Silvio
Berlusconi's poll numbers were unscathed by comments he made
defending Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, and signing Italy
forward Mario Balotelli to his soccer club Milan boosted his
standing by nearly a point, the latest SWG poll said Friday.
According to the independent group, nearly one in two
Italians indicated they agreed with Berlusconi's statement -
made during a Holocaust Remembrance ceremony on Sunday - that
Mussolini "did well" in many ways, despite his "worst fault" of
enacting the anti-Jewish racial laws of 1938.
When asked by pollsters if Fascism had produced both good
and bad results, 47% responded in the affirmative.
"The number has been unchanged for more than 15 years,"
said SWG president Roberto Weber.
In the days following his remarks, Berlusconi, who is
seeking his fourth term in office, saw support grow for the
centre right by 1.2%, giving his coalition a projected 27.8% of
the vote - only five points behind the leader centre-left
coalition headed by Pier Luigi Bersani.
Signing the charismatic Balotelli to the Milan roster
played a roll in his popularity boost, SWG said.
Weber said: "It gave a 0.3% boost to the People of Freedom
(PdL) party," which was founded by Berlusconi and makes up the
majority of the centre-right bloc.