Many faces of ex-Italian PM, Silvio Berlusconi

Silvio Berlusconi, who passed away at the age of 86, was born in Milan, a city that was severely damaged by World War II, into a middle-class family. He majored in advertising contracts while studying law at a private, religiously linked university, gaining a distinction in 1961 and preparing himself for a career in the field.

He is likely the most divisive Italian figure you have ever heard of. No matter what interests you personally or professionally, or what news sources you follow, I’m pretty sure that you’ve heard of him at some point.

He is a powerful businessman and a successful entrepreneur, but his holdings have frequently been on the verge of bankruptcy; he served as Italy’s Prime Minister in four different governments over the course of two decades.

There has been much written about how the late Silvio Berlusconi’s populist ideas changed Italian public life, yet he is regretfully never exempt from unfavourable media coverage while controlling one of the biggest media corporations in the nation. Here are some of the “faces” of Silvio Berlusconi, a controversial figure who is largely renowned for his outspoken and flamboyant demeanour.

Political rise and career: Berlusconi founded the political party Forza Italia (Go Italy) in 1994 and quickly rose to prominence, leading a centre-right coalition to victory in the parliamentary elections and becoming Prime Minister for the first time. He subsequently served as Prime Minister from 2001 to 2006, 2008 to 2011, and briefly in 2013.

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Media empire: One of the biggest media corporations in Italy is owned by Berlusconi and is called Mediaset. During his political career, issues regarding conflicts of interest and media manipulation were raised due to his control over media outlets.

In order to handle his interests, Berlusconi employed Fininvest, a family-holding company with assets valued at 4.9 billion euros ($5.3 billion) by the end of 2021. Berlusconi rose to prominence in the 1980s by creating a media empire and serving as the owner of European soccer winners AC Milan.

Prior to his passing, Pier Silvio and Marina Berlusconi, his two children from his first marriage, each held a 7.65% share in Fininvest. Silvio owned 61.3% of Fininvest. His other three children, Barbara, Eleonora, and Luigi Berlusconi, collectively held 21.42% of Fininvest. Since 2005, Marina Berlusconi has presided over Fininvest

“Bunga Bunga” parties: During his lifetime, he had a string of spouses and partners. His second wife, Veronica Lario, divorced him in 2010 after accusing him of lying about his relationship with a teenager.

But chief among the sex scandals that surrounded him was the saga of the notorious “bunga bunga” parties held at his Arcore villa near Milan.

Berlusconi was linked to scandalous “bunga bunga” parties, known for their alleged lewd and extravagant nature. These parties attracted controversy and legal investigations.

The term refers to salacious parties allegedly held at his residences, involving high-profile guests and women.

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In a biography of Berlusconi published in 2015, the ex-prime minister was quoted as saying the phrase “bunga bunga” originally came from a joke told to him by the Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi. The two men enjoyed a close friendship before Gaddafi was deposed and killed in 2011.

Legal troubles: Berlusconi faced several legal battles during his political career, including charges of tax fraud, bribery, and corruption. He was involved in numerous trials and appeals. He faced various scandals and legal issues throughout his career. These included accusations of corruption, tax fraud, and involvement with underage prostitutes.

Controversial laws: Berlusconi’s government passed several controversial laws, including legislation that restricted wiretapping by prosecutors and limited the power of the judiciary, leading to criticism about undermining democratic institutions.

Gaffes and controversial statements: Berlusconi was known for his controversial and often offensive remarks. He made sexist comments about women, including derogatory remarks about political opponents. He often made controversial and provocative statements during his time in office. He was known for his blunt and unfiltered remarks, which sometimes drew criticism and caused diplomatic tensions.

Relationship with the Catholic Church: Despite being a media mogul known for his flamboyant lifestyle, Berlusconi maintained close ties with the Catholic Church. He was often supported by the influential Church during his political career.

Relationship with Vladimir Putin and political alliances: Berlusconi had a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. They had a friendly rapport, and their connection raised questions about the influence of Russia on Italian politics. He formed alliances with different political parties and leaders over the years, seeking to maintain influence and power in Italian politics.

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Political comebacks and downfalls: Berlusconi’s political career witnessed several comebacks and downfalls. Despite legal battles and scandals, he remained a prominent figure in Italian politics for over two decades before his influence gradually diminished.

Legacy and Impact: Berlusconi’s political legacy is widely debated. Supporters credit him with economic reforms and strong leadership, while critics highlight his controversies, legal troubles, and concerns about media concentration.

Italians were tolerant of many of the flamboyant Berlusconi’s antics, especially his occasionally strange behaviour in his private life. As evidenced by his conviction for tax fraud, he most likely received more pardons from the public than he deserved and undoubtedly more than the legal system was willing to grant him.

Others were found guilty of hiring prostitutes for Berlusconi’s parties as he fought off other judicial cases including accusations of having sex with a juvenile.

Even now, after his passing, it is challenging to come to a final conclusion on Berlusconi and his significance in recent Italian history. His own life story is undoubtedly a symbol of a nation blessed with many gifts, a creative land susceptible to an abrupt and unanticipated revival.



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