Would you vote for the sleek pedigree or a cheeky mongrel? The race for the top job in Italy's February vote has taken on a new angle, with rival candidates Mario Monti and Silvio Berlusconi adopting canine friends in a bizarre election ploy.
Italy's former environment minister Maria Vittoria Brambilla (left) arrives for an electoral meeting in Milan on February 3, 2013. Brambilla is holding Silvio Berlusconi's new dog -- a stray bitch that is past-wolf, part-Golder Retriever. Berlusconi has named the puppy 'Vicky'.
Three-time premier Berlusconi, whose centre-right party is catching up with the left in the polls, adopted a stray from the streets of Sicily this week and photographs of the pair canoodling in a garden instantly went viral on social networks.