Silvio Berlusconi, former Italian Prime Minister infamous for sex scandals and charges of corruption, has passed away at age 86 while undergoing pre-planned Leukaemia tests.
The former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who served as the nation’s longest-serving postwar leader and one of its most polarising, has passed away at the age of 86. Both supporters and detractors have paid respects to him.
He passed away at the San Raffaele hospital in Milan, where he had been treated for a lung infection brought on by chronic Myelomonocytic Leukaemia for six weeks in Spring before being readmitted.
For the second time in recent months, Berlusconi underwent hospitalisation on Friday to treat his chronic Leukaemia. He was hospitalised for COVID-19 in 2020 as well as heart problems, prostate cancer, and other ailments over the years.
The former Prime Minister’s funeral will take place on Wednesday in Milan, a city that holds a special place in Berlusconi’s heart. It is also a day of national sorrow in Italy. Supporters gathered on Monday outside the Milan hospital where he passed away, wrapped in the flags of Forza Italia and AC Milan, which he headed between 1986 and 2017.
Resignation Amid Fiscal Crisis
The billionaire media tycoon and former owner of AC Milan made a successful political comeback in 2017 despite having a career marred by sex scandals, accusations of corruption, and a tax fraud conviction. He entered politics in the 1990s at the head of his own Forza Italia as the traditional right-wing parties began to crumble.
Despite not having a place in the cabinet, his Forza Italia political party was in a coalition with the far-right leader Giorgia Meloni, who is currently the premier and took office last year. But Meloni, a fervent admirer of Ukraine, disagreed with Berlusconi because of his friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Since the end of World War II, no Italian leader has served a second term in office longer than he did, which was from 2001 to 2006. He came back into power in 2008 but was forced to step down in 2011 due to a severe fiscal crisis and accusations that he had conducted “bunga bunga” sex parties with minor girls, which he categorically rejected.
He was cleared of all accusations relating to the parties after an appeal, but he was found guilty of tax fraud in late 2012, for which he completed part-time community service at a Milan residential home during his year-long sentence. In time for the 2018 general elections, where Forza Italia campaigned in partnership with the League and Brothers of Italy but fell short of the requisite 40% to govern, his ban on running for office was overturned.
Respects to Berlusconi
His opponents, who frequently chastised him for his arrogance, occasionally vulgar language, chauvinism, and blending of business and politics, came together to pay respect. Former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi referred to Berlusconi as a historical figure. Romano Prodi, the former head of the European Commission and arguably Berlusconi’s most ardent political rival, was among the first to respond. Even though they represented separate and opposing worlds, he claimed that they never let their competition degenerate into hostility and that they had a mutually respectful relationship.
Despite his unusual life choices, Berlusconi, who was born in 1936 to a middle-class family, could inspire many with his story of rise to power. He started the media business in 1973 when he founded the modest cable television company TeleMilano as the proprietor of the broadcasting business Mediaset. This business expanded over time, giving rise to Canale 5, and finally establishing him as a media tycoon with Mediaset, which also fueled his political ambitions.