Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi Is Dead

Aged 86, the man with multiple hats died in Milan this Monday, June 12. Politician, media entrepreneur or president of AC Milan, he has also served twice in the European Parliament.

He takes with him a longevity record: 3,340 days at the head of the government, a record since the birth of the Italian Republic. Monday June 12, Silvio Berlusconi died in Milan, the Lombard capital which had seen him born 86 years earlier. “Il Cavaliere” suffered from leukemia and was admitted to hospital again on Friday, after several stays in the previous weeks.

The face of the Italian right

If his name seems inseparable from the Italian political landscape today, it was only at the age of 57 that Silvio Berlusconi chose to enter the arena. In 1994, he founded – for a few million lire – a new center-right party, Forza Italia (Go Italy). He emerged victorious in the legislative elections a few months later. On May 10, 1994, he assumed the presidency of the Italian Council for the first time, with the promise of implementing a liberal programme.

A first experience which, after only 8 months, is cut short. But the Lombard will taste this honor twice more, for almost nine years in total (from June 2001 to May 2006, then from May 2008 to November 2011). He will also sit in the Italian Chamber of Deputies for more than 18 years, as well as in the Senate since October 2022, after allying himself with the far right of Giorgia Meloni and Matteo Salvini in the last general elections.

Rare visits to the European Parliament

His adventure with the European Parliament, on the other hand, will have less marked memories. Elected MEP twice (in 1999 then in 2019), he resigned each time well before the end of his mandate. In 2001, when the institution was preparing to lift its parliamentary immunity following suspicions of corruption, he left the hemicycle to take over as head of the Italian government. Re-elected in 2019 at the age of 82, he will then only set foot in Strasbourg three times.

Silvio Berlusconi also seems to take little interest in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, of which he was a member for almost 4 and a half years (from 1998 to 2001 and from 2006 to 2008). “His avenue de l’Europe service records are blank,” report Les DNA.

His main feat of arms in the European Parliament dates back to July 2003: then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi came to present his government’s work program for the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU. After a fairly consensual speech, several MEPs attacked the law that his country had just passed, and which guaranteed him immunity to escape legal proceedings. “Il Cavaliere” ends up getting carried away and strikes at the German socialist Martin Schulz: “We are currently shooting a film in Italy on the Nazi concentration camps, I will propose you for the role of Kapo”. The episode narrowly fails to create a diplomatic incident between Rome and Berlin.

Jack-of-all-trades & legal disputes

Politics was not, far from it, Silvio Berlusconi’s only field of expression. The eldest of a family of the local bourgeoisie who had made a fortune in real estate and finance, he had in turn taken the head of the Mediaset group and a publishing house. Lucrative activities which allowed this media magnate to become one of the richest men in the country, with a fortune estimated by Forbes at 6.9 million dollars.

For football fans, Berlusconi’s name is also closely linked to AC Milan. Before selling the club in 2017, he had chaired it for 31 seasons, winning the Champions League, the most prestigious continental football competition, five times.

Legal disputes and sexual escapades have also marred the career of the former Prime Minister. The most famous affair undoubtedly concerns that of the parties called “bunga-bunga”, organized in the basement of his villa, in which minor prostitutes took part. Despite the number of lawsuits filed – around thirty throughout his life – he received only one conviction, in 2013, for tax evasion. Last October, Silvio Berlusconi also admitted to having “reconnected” with his longtime friend, Vladimir Poutine.

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