Silvio Berlusconi, the controversial three-time premier of Italy, has passed away at the age of 86. Berlusconi, a media mogul, was both admired and criticized by Italians. Despite corruption trials, diplomatic gaffes, and scandalous parties, he maintained a hold on Italian politics for 17 years, making him the country’s longest-serving premier.
Berlusconi’s political party, Forza Italia, lost support in recent years but remained a coalition partner with the current premier. He was admitted to the hospital for treatment of chronic leukemia before his death. Berlusconi, once Italy’s richest man, used his media holdings to launch his political career and introduced U.S.-inspired campaigns, radically changing Italian politics. Although criminal cases against him mostly ended in dismissals or appeals, he was convicted of tax fraud in 2013, leading to the loss of his Senate seat and a ban from public office.
Berlusconi’s political party lost its dominance to the League and the Brothers of Italy party. Despite his controversies, Berlusconi remained unapologetic and saw himself as Italy’s savior. He was known for his flamboyant lifestyle, close friendship with former Premier Bettino Craxi, and love for soccer and music.
Berlusconi’s political career was marked by both achievements and challenges, including hosting a turbulent Group of Eight summit, facing opposition to his policies, and concerns about the Italian economy. He had health issues over the years and was involved in personal scandals, including divorces and allegations of sexual misconduct. Berlusconi leaves behind a complicated legacy in Italian politics and media.