Silvio Berlusconi, Media Tycoon And Former Italian Prime Minister, Dies Aged 86


NEW DELHI: Silvio Berlusconi, the flamboyant former Italian prime minister and media tycoon, died at the age of 86, according to the country’s leading news agency, Ansa. Berlusconi, who created a vast media empire, had been suffering from leukaemia for some time. The departed leader led three Italian governments between 1994 and 2011. His party – Forza Italia – is a part of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing coalition.

Berlusconi died at the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, where he had spent nearly six weeks undergoing treatment for a lung infection linked to chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia before being readmitted.

A Flamboyant Politician

Berlusconi was one of Italy’s most flamboyant politicians. He made a political comeback in 2017 despite his political career tainted by sex scandals, countless allegations of corruption and a tax fraud conviction. Born in Milan in 1936 to a middle-class family, Berlusconi began his business career in property development before going on to found Mediaset, Italy’s largest commercial broadcaster. He also owned AC Milan football club between 1986 and 2017.

He founded the Forza Italia party in 1993. A year later, Berlusconi became the first Italian prime minister to be elected without previously having held a government office and his second term in office, between 2001 and 2006, is the longest served by any Italian leader since the second world war. He returned to power in 2008 but was forced to quit in 2011 amid an acute debt crisis.

Convicted For Tax Fraud 

This influential Italian leader was convicted of tax fraud in late 2012, for which he served his year-long sentence doing part-time community service at a residential home in Milan. His ban on running for office was lifted in time for the general elections in 2018 when Forza Italia ran in coalition with the League and Brothers of Italy. However, it fell short of the 40% required to govern.

In 2019, Berlusconi won a seat in the European Parliament and, in general elections in October 2022, his party returned to power in a coalition led by Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy. Berlusconi was also elected as a senator.

In 2016, he underwent surgery to replace a faulty aortic valve and was admitted to a hospital after being infected by Covid-19 in September 2020. Married twice, Berlusconi was in a relationship with Francesca Pascale, 37, for seven years before a relationship with 33-year-old Marta Fascina, an MP with Forza Italia with whom he had a “symbolic marriage” in March 2022. 

He is survived by five children.

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