According to reports from Italian media on Monday, Silvio Berlusconi, a former Italian prime minister and current senator in the Italian parliament, passed away at the age of 86.

The reason of death wasn’t known right away. He was admitted to the hospital last week for anticipated medical exams relating to his long-term leukaemia.

Beginning in 1994, the media magnate was Italy’s prime minister many times. His extravagant lifestyle had an impact on pop culture, but his populist attitude, rude demeanour, and ongoing legal troubles destroyed political conventions and damaged Italy’s reputation abroad.

Berlusconi, a natural performer, used to boast that his career started as a crooner on cruise liners. He then transitioned to real estate and construction, creating an empire that included newspapers, publishing companies, television networks,a good football squad, among other things.

Empire-building

It all began with a game show from the 1970s, where a caller’s correct response caused a studio housewife to remove some clothing.

Videocracy, a 2009 documentary about Italian television and its influence on the nation’s culture and politics, was directed by Erik Gandini. “If someone had told me this was the beginning of a new empire, a huge media empire and a new political order, where the owner of the media empire also became the prime minister and this whole story would start with a striptease programme, I would laugh,” he says.

It had expanded into Mediaset, the greatest media conglomerate in Italy, by the 1980s. As a result, Berlusconi was able to diversify, and he now owns the biggest publishing business in Italy as well as the daily Il Giornale and the football team AC Milan.

His networks turned an enthusiastic audience into a fictitious electorate by spinning a carousel of soap operas and scantily dressed showgirls.

Political controversies made Berlusconi interested in politics.

When bribery scandals upended the political system in the early 1990s, Berlusconi stepped in to fill the void. He sold many Italians a beautiful fantasy of wealth and cheaper taxes with his rags-to-riches tale.

In the general elections of 1994, Berlusconi won by a landslide. Just seven months later, the government fell, but during the following 20 years, he demonstrated to the world that humility was not one of his characteristics.

He proclaimed, “I am by far the best prime minister Italy has ever had.”

The fact that Berlusconi had entered politics to protect his enterprise was a known fact. Through the 1990s, Berlusconi was mired in legal issues, from giving false testimony to inquiries into connections to the Sicilian Mafia.

consolidates authority and command

Because there was no regulation against conflicts of interest, Berlusconi was able to gain control over all state-run television in addition to maintaining his TV networks while serving as prime minister.
The authority Berlusconi had, according to University of Texas at Austin professor Maurizio Viroli, was more akin to despotism.

It is “a power that no political leader has ever been able to concentrate in his own hands in any democratic or liberal country in history,” according to Viroli. For this reason, I use the word “tyranny.”

With the late Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi and Russian president Vladimir Putin, Berlusconi formed close personal relationships.

However, Berlusconi was frequently made fun of overseas due to his permanent tan, hair extensions, and facelifts.
He also became the longest-serving prime minister in Italian history, holding office intermittently between 1994 and 2011 for a total of around nine years, despite the fact that his schoolyard antics, crude jokes, and racist statements caused him to become progressively despised on the world arena.

Foreign pundits struggled to understand Berlusconi’s appeal.
Viroli refers to it as Italians’ distaste for moral standards. “They love him when they see someone who tells them it’s okay not to have principles, to ignore civic duties, to break the law.”

He finally had legal problems, yet he was elected to political office once again.
Multiple corruption prosecutions, obscene stories of orgies, and paying for sex with a child were all things Berlusconi managed to avoid.

The volatility in the financial markets ultimately led him to resign as prime minister for the final time in 2011, when the European debt crisis reached Italy.
In 2014, when he was expelled from parliament after being found guilty of tax evasion, his political career seemed to have reached an unjustifiably humiliating and final conclusion.

His four-year prison sentence was reduced to four hours per week of caregiving for dementia sufferers because of his then-current age of 77. Italy’s economy was sluggish and its debt was soaring when Berlusconi left power.

But Berlusconi’s time in politics was far from done. Throughout his prison term, he continued to serve as the party’s head, Forza Italia. In 2019, he stood for and was elected to the European Parliament. After winning a Senate seat in the Italian general elections of 2022, he then got back into politics.

His party joined forces with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to create a coalition administration. The Italian government continues to be troubled by Berlusconi’s remarks regarding Putin and the conflict in Ukraine.

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