Silvio Berlusconi's daughter Marina, touted as his possible political successor, was given a boost in a weekend opinion poll showing that the flamboyant ex-premier's supporters think she is prime minister material.
Some 65 per cent of voters for Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) party think 47-year-old Marina Berlusconi "would be suitable for the office of prime minister", according to the SWG institute poll published in the Corriere della Sera daily.
The sentiment was shared by 57 per cent of the centre-right.
Speculation is rife in Italy over whether Berlusconi, embroiled in a series of court cases, is planning to hand over the reins of his party to his eldest daughter, who has repeatedly denied an interest in entering politics. Berlusconi's conviction for tax fraud earlier this year and an upcoming Senate vote on whether to expel him from parliament have threatened to weaken his grip on his party, and Marina appears to be the only person for him to hand power over to.
His former protégé, Angelino Alfano, led a revolt against Berlusconi's hardline allies earlier this month, a betrayal the mogul has not forgiven.
Marina, who sits at the helm of the Berlusconi family's powerful holding company, Fininvest, and is believed to be a billionaire in her own right, has refused so far to give up her business career.
She was described in a Vogue Italia profile as having a "penchant for plastic surgery".
She is married to Maurizio Vanadia, a former top dancer with La Scala's ballet company.