Some politicians might have resolved in the new year to steer clear of wild, scandal-ridden parties.
But if history is anything to go by, it’s a promise they’re unlikely to keep.
Just look at Italy, where 2024 began with a bang (pun very much intended) when a firearm belonging to a member of parliament went off and injured someone at a New Year’s Eve party.
That got us thinking: Who’s been having the wildest, most scandalous political parties of the past few years?
An out-of-control New Year’s Eve
Let’s kick off our list with the most recent example from the small town of Rosazza in Italy’s Piedmont region, where a New Year’s Eve party turned into a political nightmare for Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing Brothers of Italy grouping.
During boisterous celebrations, a gun belonging to far-right MP Emanuele Pozzolo went off, injuring someone in the leg.
Pozzolo admitted the gun belonged to him but claimed he hadn’t fired it. That story convinced few, especially when the MP invoked parliamentary immunity in refusing to take a gunpowder trace test.
The incident triggered an outcry, not only against Pozzolo but also at Meloni and her party, with the opposition calling on the prime minister to take action. Which she did: Meloni told reporters on Thursday she was suspending Pozzolo over the episode.
Berlusconi’s ‘bunga bunga’ parties
This list obviously wouldn’t be complete without the most infamous of political ragers.
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was embroiled in a string of scandals and controversies throughout his life, but his raunchy “bunga bunga” sex parties at his Arcore villa near Milan were among the most notorious.
The parties came to light in 2010 when the then-prime minister called police seeking the release of a 17-year-old Moroccan, Karima el-Mahroug, who had been arrested in Milan on suspicion of stealing jewelry. It transpired that she was a belly dancer and suspected sex worker who claimed to have received $10,000 from Berlusconi.
Berlusconi was initially found guilty of paying el-Mahroug for sexual services while she was under the age of 18, but the verdict was overturned on appeal.
Boris Johnson’s ‘Partygate’
Throughout 2020 and 2021, most of Europe, including Britain, was under strict lockdown, with prohibitions on gatherings in order to fight the coronavirus pandemic. (You didn’t actually need reminding, did you?)
But those restrictions didn’t stop folks in Downing Street offices from secretly getting their grooves on and breaking lockdown rules multiple times by hosting illicit gatherings on government property.
The list included a birthday bash for then-U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a “bring-your-own-booze” garden gathering, Christmas parties, and two staff parties on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral, among other functions. Whew!
British newspapers at the time even reported that thirsty staffers had carried a suitcase full of wine into Downing Street.
József Szájer and the orgy
The COVID lockdown brought out the really wild side of some politicians.
In 2020, Hungarian MEP József Szájer, a senior member of the right-wing ruling Fidesz party, landed in hot water when he was caught attending a lockdown-busting party in Brussels.
Police found 25 naked men at the gathering, according to Belgian media reports; Szájer was caught trying to flee with a backpack full of narcotics, prosecutors said.
Szájer’s party is known for its conservative LGBTQ+ views; the incident was a huge scandal, and he ended up resigning. Oops!
Not all debauched political parties make headlines because of guns, drugs or sex workers.
In some cases, people are caught urinating … in the wrong place.
That’s what happened last year at the 50th birthday bash of then-Belgian Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne. Three of the minister’s guests, invited to his house to celebrate the occasion, were caught on surveillance cameras urinating on police vans parked by the minister’s home for his protection.
Van Quickenborne insisted he hadn’t known what his guests did to the police vans, but footage shared online showed the minister walking outside at around 4 a.m., standing on the sidewalk, leaning back and making a distinctive gesture that many interpreted as “pretending to pee.”
The ‘Party King’
Dominique Strauss-Kahn was a prominent figure in French politics before the ex-finance minister and former managing director of the International Monetary Fund fell from grace in 2011 after being accused of sexual assault.
The charges were eventually dropped, but Strauss-Kahn later found himself in legal trouble again when he was accused of organizing sex parties with sex workers.
Strauss-Kahn denied knowing the women involved in the parties were sex workers, and said his partying habits had been greatly exaggerated given that he had only attended 12 sex parties in three years. He was acquitted of the charges.