Silvio Berlusconi
Italian politician, entrepreneur, and media proprietor
Silvio Berlusconi
Silvio Berlusconi is an Italian politician and media tycoon who served three times as Prime Minister of Italy from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006 and 2008 to 2011. Berlusconi is also the controlling shareholder of Mediaset and owner of A.C. Milan. Berlusconi is the longest-serving post-war Prime Minister of Italy, and third longest-serving since the Unification of Italy, after Benito Mussolini and Giovanni Giolitti, holding three separate terms.
Biography
Silvio Berlusconi's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Silvio Berlusconi from around the web
Berlusconi Faces Trial on Corruption Charges
Wall Street Journal - 21 days
Just when Silvio Berlusoni hopes to run for office after being sidelined by a tax-fraud conviction, a Milan judge has ordered the former Italian prime minister to be tried on corruption charges.
Article Link:
Wall Street Journal article
New Italian trial set for Berlusconi in a corruption case
Yahoo News - 23 days
ROME (AP) — A Milan judge on Saturday ordered Silvio Berlusconi to be tried on corruption charges, damping the former Italian premier's hopes of running soon for office again after being sidelined by a tax-fraud conviction.
Article Link:
Yahoo News article
Intelligence Report Concludes That Vladimir Putin Intervened In U.S. Election To Help Donald Trump Win
Huffington Post - about 1 month
function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); WASHINGTON ― Russian President Vladimir Putin directed efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election with the goal of helping President-elect Donald Trump win, the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency concluded in a report released Friday. Moscow is responsible for cyberattacks directed at the Democratic National Committee, the authors of the report argued. Russian spies gained access to DNC networks in July 2015 and maintained access until at least June 201 ...
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Huffington Post article
Payment keeps Chinese Milan buyout on track
Yahoo News - 2 months
A Chinese consortium in the process of buying AC Milan said Tuesday it had made a second 100-million-euro down payment, keeping the deal on track to be completed in March. According to the consortium's PR advisers, Sino-Europe Sports (SES) made the payment to Fininvest, the holding company of Milan's media tycoon owner, Silvio Berlusconi. Berlusconi, 80, has agreed to sell Milan to SES in a deal that values the famous club at 740 million euros ($825.4 million).
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Yahoo News article
Berlusconi votes in Italian referendum
Reuters.com - 3 months
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has voted in a referendum which will decide the political future of current Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
Article Link:
Reuters.com article
Governance Is the Populist's Only Poison
Huffington Post - 3 months
COPENHAGEN — Several parallels have been drawn between the rise and character of Donald J. Trump, the U.S. president-elect, and Silvio Berlusconi, the three time Italian prime minister. Both have a business background in real estate and television. Both have employed a populist language, flirting with racism and misogyny and have appealed to the population’s reactionary impulses. They cast themselves as the anti-establishment outsiders, advocate an anti-immigrant agenda at home and a cynical realpolitik abroad — including an admiration for Vladimir Putin. The parallels are inadequate to the extent that Italy is not a global superpower and Berlusconi never handled nuclear codes. Even so, as Berlusconi himself admitted in the aftermath of the U.S. election, there are striking “analogies” between his two decade-long political experience (Berlusconi was first elected prime minister in 1994) and Trump’s rise, which should read as a cautionary tale for Americans in the months to come. ...
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Huffington Post article
Milan official wants clarity on AC Milan's Chinese owners
Yahoo News - 3 months
(Refiles to remove extraneous text) MILAN, Nov 16 (Reuters) - An anti-Mafia official at Milan's city council called on Wednesday for the Chinese buyers of soccer club AC Milan to reveal their identities, saying town hall would notify anti-money laundering authorities if there was not full disclosure. In August, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi agreed to sell the Serie A club to China's Sino-Europe Sports Investment Management Changxing, which is backed by Haixia Capital and entrepreneur Yonghong Li. In a statement, Sino-Europe Sports (SES) said AC Milan belonged to Berlusconi's holding company Fininvest until completion of the deal.
Article Link:
Yahoo News article
Comparisons with Trump 'obvious' to Berlusconi
Yahoo News - 3 months
Former Italy prime minister Silvio Berlusconi welcomed comparisons made between himself and US president-elect Donald Trump, in an interview published on Saturday. While Italian comedians have jumped at the chance to mock the similarities between the two gaffe-prone, orange-skinned, questionably-coiffed businessmen-turned-politicians, Berlusconi himself pointed to other common traits they share. "There are some obvious similarities, even though my story as an entrepreneur is very different to Trump's, who I've never met," Berlusconi, who was known as a media mogul and president of AC Milan football club before entering politics in 1994, told Corriere della Sera.
Article Link:
Yahoo News article
How we ended up with our own Berlusconi
Chicago Times - 3 months
I will no longer mock my Italian friends for electing Silvio Berlusconi. Now I know how clownish but fabulously wealthy autocrats come to power in democracies that should know better. We just elected one. Of course, I should note that I did not vote for Donald Trump. Nor did most American voters....
Article Link:
Chicago Times article
Berlusconi has heart check-up in U.S., misses trial hearing: lawyers
Yahoo News - 5 months
Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has flown to the United States for tests on his heart condition, meaning he could not attend the start of a new trial on Monday tied to his "bunga bunga" parties, his lawyers said. The lawyers said Berlusconi had checked into the Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center in New York for a medical visit almost four months after undergoing major open heart surgery in Italy. Berlusconi turned 80 last week and had a party with family and friends to celebrate.
Article Link:
Yahoo News article
Berlusconi at 80: 'regrets I have a few'
Yahoo News - 5 months
Silvio Berlusconi celebrated his 80th birthday on Thursday, away from the limelight he enjoyed for decades as a flamboyant Italian prime minister, media tycoon and owner of AC Milan. "I think Berlusconi will be remembered 300 years from now for the things he did in football, publishing and television," said Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Twice-divorced Berlusconi was thought to be spending the day with his 31-year-old girlfriend Francesca Pascale and an extended family that he admits to having neglected during the course of his business and political careers.
Article Link:
Yahoo News article
Forgery claims hit AC Milan takeover bid
Yahoo News - 5 months
A Chinese consortium looking to purchase AC Milan has been accused of providing false documents during its initial negotiations with the Serie A giants, according to reports Wednesday. Sino-Europe Sports Investment Management Changxing Co, led by businessman Li Yonghong, has already paid 100m euros to Fininvest, the holding company of AC Milan owner and president Silvio Berlusconi, who is expected to sign off on the 740m euro deal by the end of the year. The report claims Sino-Europe Sports provided documents on "what appears to be Bank of Jiangsu Co. stationery, purporting to show transaction details of a consortium member’s corporate account".
Article Link:
Yahoo News article
Mediaset filed complaint with French watchdog against Vivendi - source
Yahoo News - 6 months
By Claudia Cristoferi MILAN (Reuters) - Italy's Mediaset has asked the French stock market regulator to force Vivendi to amend some statements it has made about a pay-TV deal which the French firm pulled out of, according to a source close to the matter. Broadcaster Mediaset, owned by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, is suing Vivendi for damages after it backed away from the deal. Vivendi said the financial forecasts of the unit, provided by Mediaset, were overly optimistic.
Article Link:
Yahoo News article
AC Milan sold to Chinese investors for $820 million
CNN - 7 months
Italian businessman and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has agreed to sell famous soccer club AC Milan to a Chinese consortium for 740 million euros ($820 million).
Article Link:
CNN article
Hidden Senate scheming saves Berlusconi from court wiretaps
Reuters.com - 7 months
ROME (Reuters) - Italy's Senate voted on Wednesday to block magistrates from using wiretaps as evidence against former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in a trial where he is accused of bribing women to keep quiet over his "bunga bunga" sex parties.
Article Link:
Reuters.com article
The Europeanization Of America
Huffington Post - 8 months
Ever since the American Revolution, the United States has prided itself on being a special country unlike any other in the world. The "First New Nation," as Seymour Martin Lipset called it, represented the "New World" as opposed to the "Old World" of Europe. Over time it has led the world in such critical areas as the global economy, democracy, laissez-faire capitalism, high technology, immigration and higher education. The victory in World War II, its emergence as a superpower after the war and defeat of the Soviet Union in the Cold War after a 40-year struggle seemed to confirm the uniqueness of the United States. After the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States seemed destined to reign supreme as the world's only superpower (even hyperpower), deciding the fate of the world for many decades to come. At first, in the 1990s and 2000s, this seemed a plausible scenario, but now the United States in many ways begins to resemble Europe rather than the American model t ...
Article Link:
Huffington Post article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Silvio Berlusconi
    FORTIES
  • 2016
    On 7 June 2016, after the campaign for the local elections, Prime Minister Berlusconi was hospitalized to the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan because of heart problems.
    More Details Hide Details After two days, on 9 June, his personal doctor Alberto Zangrillo announced that the stroke could have killed him and he must have a heart surgery to replace a defective aortic valve. In 2012, Forbes magazine reported that Berlusconi was Italy's sixth richest man, with a net worth of $5.9 billion. He holds significant assets in television, newspaper, publishing, cinema, finance, banking, insurance, and sports. Berlusconi's main company, Mediaset, operates three national television channels covering half of the national television sector; and Publitalia (it), the leading Italian advertising and publicity agency. Berlusconi also owns a controlling stake in Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, the largest Italian publishing house, whose publications include Panorama, one of the country's most popular news magazines. His brother, Paolo Berlusconi, owns and operates il Giornale, a centre-right wing newspaper which provides a pro-Berlusconi slant on Italian politics. Il Foglio, one of the most influential Italian right-wing newspapers, is partially owned by his former wife, Veronica Lario. After Lario sold some of her ownership in 2010, Paolo Berlusconi acquired a majority interest in the newspaper. He founded and is the major shareholder of Fininvest, which is among the largest private companies in Italy; it operates in media and finance. With Ennio Doris he founded Mediolanum, one of the country's biggest banking and insurance groups. He has interests in cinema and home video distribution (Medusa Film and Penta Film).
  • 2014
    Berlusconi appealed the sentence and his conviction was quashed a year later, on 18 July 2014. In April 2016 the Panama Papers scandal broke out; it was a leaked set of 11.5 million confidential documents that provide detailed information about more than 214,000 offshore companies listed by the Panamanian corporate service provider Mossack Fonseca, including the identities of shareholders and directors of the companies.
    More Details Hide Details The documents show how wealthy individuals, including public officials, hid their assets from public scrutiny. Silvio Berlusconi was cited in the list, along with his long-time partner in A.C. Milan, Adriano Galliani. On 13 December 2009, Berlusconi was hit in the face with an alabaster statuette of Milan Cathedral after a rally in Milan's Piazza del Duomo. As Berlusconi was shaking hands with the public, a man in the crowd stepped forward and launched the statuette at him. The assailant was subsequently detained and identified as Massimo Tartaglia, a 42-year-old surveyor with a history of mental illness but no criminal record, living in the outskirts of Milan. According to a letter released to the Italian news agency ANSA, Tartaglia has apologised for the attack, writing: "I don't recognise myself", and adding that he had "acted alone no form of militancy or political affiliation". Berlusconi suffered facial injuries, a broken nose and two broken teeth; he was subsequently hospitalised. Italian president Giorgio Napolitano and politicians from all parties in Italy condemned the attack.
    On 18 July 2014, the Constitutional Court indeed ruled the decree to be unconstitutional and annulled it; meaning that the civil court proceedings against Berlusconi now can continue.
    More Details Hide Details In addition to the ongoing court trials, Berlusconi is currently also involved in the following two ongoing legal investigations, which will evolve to become an ongoing court trial if the judge at the preliminary hearing indict him of the alleged crime: Berlusconi has only been convicted by the final appeal instance in 1 out of 32 court cases. The Mediaset trial was launched in April 2005, with indictment of 14 persons (including Berlusconi) for having committed: A) false accounting and embezzlement in order to mask payments of substantial "black funds", committed in 1988–94. (B) tax fraud equal in total to more than €62 million (120bn lira), committed in 1988–98. Both indictments were related to achievement of personal tax evasion, through illicit trade of movie rights between Mediaset and secret fictive foreign companies situated in tax haven nations, causing fictive losses for Mediaset, with the trade gains being accumulated by the foreign companies owned by the indicted tax fraudsters, who ultimately had the gains paid out as personal profit without paying tax in Italy. In 2007, the court case at first-instance had not yet been launched, and the prosecutors dropped the (A) charges against Berlusconi due to the statute of limitations, and for the same reason the (B) charges were narrowed down to the 1994–98 period, in which the prosecutor charged Berlusconi for having committed a personal tax evasion of €7.3 million.
  • 2013
    On 27 November 2013, the Senate voted 192:113 for enforcement of Berlusconi's immediate expulsion and a six-year ban from serving any legislative office.
    More Details Hide Details Berlusconi was expected to start serving his four-year prison sentence (reduced to one year), either under house arrest or doing unpaid social community service, in mid-October 2013. In mid-October he informed the court, that he prefers to serve the sentence by doing community service. Because of bureaucracy in the legal court system, it is however expected his one-year-long full-time community service will only start around April 2014. On 19 October, the Milan appeal court ruled that Berlusconi's public office ban should be reduced from five to two years; which was later also confirmed by the Court of Cassation. The court imposed public office ban, however did not change that Berlusconi according to the Severino law, anyway received a legislative office ban preventing him to run as candidate in legislative elections for a prolonged six-year period, which then by effect superseded the shorter court imposed public office ban. Berlusconi began serving his community service at a catholic care home center on 9 May 2014, where he is required to work four hours a week for a year with elderly dementia patients.
    On 24 June 2013, Berlusconi was found guilty of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and of abusing his office.
    More Details Hide Details He was sentenced to seven years in prison, one more year than had been requested by the prosecution, and banned from public office for life. In the trial, the prosecution claimed that Berlusconi had paid over 4.5 million euros in total for El Mahroug's services.
    Berlusconi has been involved in many controversies and over 20 court cases during his political career, including a conviction to 4 years prison and 5 years suspension of public functions by the Court of Appeals for €7M tax evasion (and €280M slush fund) on 8 May 2013, confirmed by the Court of Cassation on 1 August 2013.
    More Details Hide Details Due to a general pardon, his imprisonment was reduced to one year, which due to his age can be served either as a house arrest at his private residence or as community service. On 24 June 2013, Berlusconi was found guilty of paying an underage prostitute for sex, and of abusing his powers in an ensuing cover up. He was sentenced to seven years in jail, and banned from public office for life. He is certain to appeal, and the sentence will not be enforced until the result of the trial is confirmed at appeal. According to journalists Marco Travaglio and Enzo Biagi, Berlusconi entered politics to save his companies from bankruptcy and himself from convictions. From the very beginning he said it clearly to his associates. Berlusconi's supporters hailed him as the "novus homo", an outsider who was going to bring a new efficiency to the public bureaucracy and reform the state from top to bottom.
    On 8 May 2013, the Court of Appeals in Milan confirmed the four-year prison sentence, and extended the public office ban to five years.
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    Following Berlusconi's resignation, Mario Monti formed a new government that would remain in office until the next scheduled elections in 2013.
    More Details Hide Details On 16 November, Monti announced that he had formed a Cabinet and was sworn in as Prime Minister of Italy, also appointing himself as Minister of Economy and Finances. In December 2012, Berlusconi announced on television that he would run again to become Prime Minister. Berlusconi said the platform his party would run on includes opposition to Monti's economic performance, which he said put Italy into a "recessive spiral without end." He also told the media, on the sidelines of AC Milan's practice session (the football club he owns along with Mediaset, the largest media outlet in the country): "I race to win. To win, everyone said there had to be a tested leader. It's not that we did not look for one. We did, and how! But there isn't one I'm doing it out of a sense of responsibility."
    He is nicknamed Il Cavaliere (The Knight) for his Order of Merit for Labour, although he voluntarily resigned from this order in March 2013.
    More Details Hide Details In 2016, Forbes magazine ranked him as the 188th richest man in the world with a net worth of US$7.1 billion. In 2009, Forbes ranked him 12th in the List of The World's Most Powerful People due to his domination in Italian politics. Berlusconi was Prime Minister for nine years in total, making him the longest-serving post-war Prime Minister of Italy, and the third longest-serving since the Italian unification. He was the leader of the centre-right party Forza Italia from 1994 to 2009, and its successor party The People of Freedom from 2009 to 2013. Since November 2013, he has led a revived Forza Italia. Berlusconi was the senior G8 leader from 2009 until 2011 and he currently holds the record of G8 Summit hosting (having hosted it in Italy three times). After serving nearly 19 years as member of the Chamber of Deputies, Italy's lower house, after the 2013 general election he became a member of the Senate. On 1 August 2013, he was convicted of tax-fraud by the final appeal instance, Court of Cassation (of which three years are automatically pardoned) along with a public office ban for two years. As his age exceeded 70 years, he was exempted from direct imprisonment, and instead served his sentence by doing unpaid social community work. Because of being sentenced to a gross imprisonment for more than two years, a new Italian anticorruption law made the Senate expel and bar him from serving any legislative office for six years.
    In January 2013, judges rejected an application from Berlusconi's lawyers to have the trial adjourned so that it would not interfere with Italy's 2013 general election in which Berlusconi participated.
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  • 2012
    However, a new anti-corruption law passed in late 2012, referred to as the Severino law, will anyway bar Berlusconi from seeking elective office for six years, independently of the court's final ruling for the public office ban duration.
    More Details Hide Details The ramifications of his public office ban is, that it makes him ineligible to serve any public office, but technically he will still be allowed as a non-candidate to continue leading his party and center-right coalition in election campaigns. A similar situation occurred in March 2013, when the leader of the Five Star Movement, Beppe Grillo, convicted over a road accident in 1988, led his party's 2013 election campaign despite he couldn't run for a public office because of a rule established within his movement. Berlusconi will due to his high age above 70 years, not be placed direct in prison, but can instead decide if he want to serve his one-year jail term either by a house arrest at one of his private residences or by doing community service. As the gross prison term exceeds two years, the Severino law prompts the Italian senate to vote if Berlusconi shall be forced to resign his current senate seat immediately, or alternatively allowing the court imposed ban on holding public office only to take effect by the end of his current legislative term. The pending senate vote, combined with anger over Berlusconi's conviction – a poll indicated 42% of the public believe he has been unfairly persecuted by the magistrates – present a serious political challenge for the fragile ruling coalition. On 3 August, Berlusconi suggested that unless a "solution" to his predicament could be found, Italy was at "risk of a civil war".
    On 28 December 2012, Berlusconi was ordered to pay his ex-wife Veronica Lario $48 million a year in a divorce settlement that was filed Christmas Day, and he will keep the $100 million house they live in with their three children.
    More Details Hide Details Berlusconi's business career began in construction. In the late 1960s, he built Milano Due (Italian for "Milan Two"), 4,000 residential apartments east of Milan. The profits from this venture provided the seed money for his advertising agency.
    In February 2012, Milan prosecutors brought charges against Berlusconi for alleged abuse of office connected with the publication of confidential wiretaps by the Italian newspaper Il Giornale, which is owned by Berlusconi's brother, in 2005.
    More Details Hide Details The publication of the conversations between then Governor of the Bank of Italy Antonio Fazio, senior management of Unipol and Italian centre-left politician Piero Fassino was a breach of secrecy rules and was seen at the time as an attempt to discredit Berlusconi's political rivals. Their publication also eventually led to the collapse of the proposed takeover of Banca Nazionale del Lavoro by Unipol and the resignation of Fazio. The head of the company used by Italian prosecutors to record the conversations has been previously convicted of stealing the recordings and making them available to Berlusconi. On 7 February 2012, at an initial court hearing, Berlusconi denied he had listened to the tapes and ordered their publication. On 7 March 2013, Berlusconi was sentenced to a one-year jail term. On 31 March 2014, the Milan Court of Appeal ruled that the evidence did not clear Paolo and Silvio Berlusconi from guilt, but that the facts are now prescribed, which mean they were both acquitted due to the statutes of limitations. Although Paolo still had to pay €80,000 as compensatory damages to Fassino.
  • 2011
    On 12 November 2011, after a final meeting with his cabinet, Berlusconi met Italian President Giorgio Napolitano at the Palazzo del Quirinale to tend his resignation.
    More Details Hide Details As he arrived at the presidential residence, a hostile crowd gathered with banners shouting insults at Berlusconi and throwing coins at the car. After his resignation, the booing and jeering continued as he left in his convoy, with the public shouting words such as "buffoon", "dictator" and "mafioso".
    After losing his majority in parliament amid growing fiscal problems related to the European debt crisis, Berlusconi resigned as Prime Minister on 16 November 2011.
    More Details Hide Details In February 2013 Berlusconi has led the People of Freedom and its right-wing allies in the campaign for the parliamentary elections. Although he initially planned to run for a fifth term as Prime Minister, as part of the agreement with the Lega Nord he would instead plan to lead the coalition without becoming Prime Minister. Berlusconi's Centre-right coalition gained 29% of votes, ranking second, after the centre-left coalition Italy Common Good led by Pier Luigi Bersani. Now the PdL is supporting the government of Enrico Letta, together with the Democratic Party and the centrist Civic Choice, of the former Prime Minister Mario Monti. He was criticised for his electoral coalitions with right wing populist parties (the Lega Nord and the National Alliance) and for apologetic remarks about Mussolini, though he also officially apologised for Italy's actions in Libya during colonial rule. While in power, Berlusconi maintained ownership of Mediaset, the largest media company in Italy, and was criticised for his dominance of the Italian media. His leadership was also undermined by sex scandals.
    On 15 February 2011, a judge indicted Berlusconi to stand trial on charges carrying up to 15 years in prison.
    More Details Hide Details Paying for sex with a minor in Italy is punished within a range of six months to three years imprisonment, while the crime of malfeasance in office (It: concussione) is more severely punished, from four years to twelve years imprisonment, as it is considered a type of extortion committed by a public officer. The fast-track trial opened on 6 April and was adjourned until 31 May. El Mahroug's lawyer said that Mahroug would not be attaching herself to the case as a civil complainant and denies that she ever made herself available for money. Another alleged victim, Giorgia Iafrate, also decided not to be a party to the case.
    In January 2011, Berlusconi was placed under criminal investigation relating to El Mahroug for allegedly having sex with an underage prostitute and for abuse of office relating to her release from detention.
    More Details Hide Details Berlusconi's lawyers were quick to deny the allegations as "absurd and without foundation" and called the investigation a "serious interference with the private life of the prime minister without precedent in the judicial history of the country".
    Berlusconi, like the same Berlusconism, defines himself as moderate, liberal, and a free trader, but he is often accused of being a populist and a conservative. After his resignation in 2011, Berlusconi has become increasingly Eurosceptical, and he is often criticized by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
    More Details Hide Details One of Berlusconi's main leadership tactics is to use the party as the way to reach power (defined "light party", because deprive of a complex structure). This is decidedly comparable to the political tactics used by Charles De Gaulle in France. Another feature of great importance is emphasis of a "Liberal revolution", thrown and summarized by the "Contract with the Italians" of 2001. The strong reformism is added to these pillars, principally on the form of the Italian state and the constitution" between of these am there the passage from Parliamentary Republic to Presidential one, a bigger electoral blockage, the abolition of Senate, the deputies's halving, the abolition of the provinces and the reform of the justice, with separation of the careers between magistrates and magistrates's civil responsibility, from Berlusconi considered impartial. Berlusconi has declared more turned than be persecuted by the judges, having undergone 34 processes, accusing them to be manoeuvred from left-wing and comparing him to Enzo Tortora, victim of a judicial mistake. Newly, Berlusconi has declared himself favourable to the Civil Unions.
  • 2010
    In November 2010, teenage Moroccan belly dancer and alleged prostitute Karima El Mahroug (better known as "Ruby Rubacuori") claimed to have been given $10,000 by Berlusconi at parties at his private villas.
    More Details Hide Details The girl told prosecutors in Milan that these events were like orgies where Berlusconi and 20 young women performed an African-style ritual known as the "bunga bunga" in the nude.
    The Guardian reported that according to a series of media reports in October 2010, Berlusconi had met El Mahroug, then 17, through Nicole Minetti.
    More Details Hide Details Mahroug insisted that she had not slept with the then 74-year-old prime minister. She told Italian newspapers that she merely attended dinner at his mansion near Milan. El Mahroug said she sat next to Berlusconi, who later took her upstairs and gave her an envelope containing €7,000. She said he also gave her jewelry. Berlusconi came under fire for reportedly spending $1.8 million in state funds from RAI Cinema to further the career of a largely unknown Bulgarian actress, Michelle Bonev. The fact that this coincided with severe cuts being made to the country's arts budget provoked a strong reaction from the public.
    In February 2010, she was selected as one of the candidates representing Berlusconi's The People of Freedom party, despite her lack of any political experience, and was seated on the Regional Council of Lombardy the following month.
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  • THIRTIES
  • 2009
    In November 2009 she became a dental hygienist, and shortly afterward treated Berlusconi for two broken teeth and facial injuries after he was attacked with a marble statue at a political rally.
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    On 22 September 2009, after a press conference, Berlusconi declared that he had asked his ministers not to respond anymore to questions regarding "gossip".
    More Details Hide Details He stated also that the Italian press should talk only about the "successes" of Italian Government in internal and foreign policies, adding also that the press now will be able only to ask questions relating to his administration and not to gossip. During a contested episode of AnnoZero on 1 October 2009, the journalist and presenter Michele Santoro interviewed Patrizia D'Addario. She stated she was contacted by Giampaolo Tarantini – a businessman from Bari – who already knew her and requested her presence at Palazzo Grazioli with "the President". D'Addario also stated that Berlusconi knew that she was a paid escort.
    After a period of tense exchanges and polemics, on 3 September 2009, Boffo resigned from his editorial position and the assistant editor Marco Tarquinio became editor ad interim.
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    On 28 August 2009, Berlusconi sued Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso, the owner company of the newspaper, and classified the ten questions as "defamatory" and "rhetorical".
    More Details Hide Details Berlusconi's lifestyle has raised eyebrows in Catholic circles, with vigorous criticism being expressed in particular by the newspaper Avvenire, owned by the Conferenza Episcopale Italiana (Conference of Italian Bishops). This was followed by the publication in the newspaper il Giornale (owned by the Berlusconi family) of details with regard to legal proceedings against the editor of Avvenire, Dino Boffo, which seemed to implicate him for a harassment case against the wife of his ex-partner. Dino Boffo has always declared the details of the proceedings to be false, although he has not denied the basic premise.
    On 26 June 2009, the "ten questions" to Berlusconi were reformulated by la Repubblica newspaper, and subsequently republished multiple times.
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    On 28 May 2009, Berlusconi said that he had never had "spicy" relations with Letizia, and said that if any such thing had occurred, he would have resigned immediately.
    More Details Hide Details On 17 June 2009, Patrizia D'Addario, a 42-year-old escort and retired actress from Bari, Italy, claimed that she had been recruited twice to spend the evening with Berlusconi. Berlusconi denied any knowledge of D'Addario being a paid escort: "I have never paid a woman... I have never understood what satisfaction there is if the pleasure of conquest is absent". He also accused an unspecified person of manoeuvring and bribing D'Addario.
    At the end of April 2009, Berlusconi's wife Veronica Lario, who would divorce him several years later, wrote an open letter expressing her anger at Berlusconi's choice of young, attractive female candidates—some with little or no political experience—to represent the party in the 2009 European Parliament elections.
    More Details Hide Details Berlusconi demanded a public apology, claiming that for the third time his wife had "done this to me in the middle of an election campaign", and stated that there was little prospect of his marriage continuing. On 3 May, Lario announced she was filing for divorce. She claimed that Berlusconi had not attended his own sons' 18th birthday parties, and that she "cannot remain with a man who consorts with minors" and "is not well". Noemi Letizia, the girl in question, gave interviews to the Italian press, revealing that she calls Berlusconi "papi" ("daddy"), that they often spent time together in the past, and that Berlusconi would take care of her career as showgirl or politician, whichever she opted to pursue. Berlusconi claimed that he knew Letizia only through her father and that he never met her alone without her parents.
    Two days after the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake, Berlusconi suggested that people left homeless should view their experience as a camping weekend.
    More Details Hide Details Subsequently, at a tent camp on the outskirts of L'Aquila housing some of the more than 30,000 people who lost their homes during the 2009 earthquake he said to an African priest: "you have a nice tan." In October 2010, Berlusconi was chastised by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano after he was filmed telling "offensive and deplorable jokes", including one whose punchline was similar to one of the gravest blasphemies in the Italian language. It was also revealed he had made another antisemitic joke a few days previously. Berlusconi responded to the allegations by saying the jokes were "neither an offence nor a sin, but merely a laugh". On 1 November 2010, after once again being accused of involvement in juvenile prostitution, he suggested that an audience at the Milan trade fair should stop reading newspapers: "Don't read newspapers any more because they deceive you. I am a man who works hard all day long and if sometimes I look at some good-looking girl, it's better to be fond of pretty girls than to be gay". The remarks were immediately condemned by Arcigay, Italy's main gay rights organisation.
    On 24 January 2009, Berlusconi announced his aim to increase the numbers of military patrolling the Italian cities from 3,000 to 30,000 in order to crack down on what he called an "evil army" of criminals.
    More Details Hide Details Responding to a female journalist who asked him if this tenfold increase in patrolling soldiers would be enough to secure Italian women from being raped, he said: "We could not field a big enough force to avoid this risk rape. We would need as many soldiers as beautiful women and I don't think that would be possible, because our women are so beautiful." Opposition leaders called the remarks insensitive and in bad taste. Berlusconi retorted that he had merely wanted to compliment Italian women. Other critics accused him of creating a "police state".
    Between 2009 and 2010, Gianfranco Fini, former leader of the national conservative National Alliance (AN) and President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, became a vocal critic of the leadership of Berlusconi.
    More Details Hide Details Fini departed from party's majority line on several issues but, most of all, he was a proponent of a more structured party organisation. His criticism was aimed at the leadership style of Berlusconi, who tends to rely on his personal charisma to lead the party from the centre and supports a less structured form of party, a movement-party that organises itself only at election times. On 15 April 2010, an association named Generation Italy was launched in order to better represent Fini's views within the party and push for a different party organisation. On 22 April 2010 the National Committee of the PdL convened in Rome for the first time in a year. The conflict between Fini and Berlusconi was covered live on television. At the end of the day, a resolution proposed by Berlusconi's loyalists was put before the assembly and approved by a landslide margin. On 29 July 2010, the party executive released a document in which Fini was described as "incompatible" with the political line of the PdL and unable to perform his job of President of the Chamber of Deputies in a neutral way. Berlusconi asked Fini to step down, and the executive proposed the suspension from party membership of three MPs who had harshly criticized Berlusconi and accused some party members of criminal offences. As response, Fini and his followers formed their own groups in both chambers under the name of Future and Freedom (FLI).
  • 2008
    On 6 November 2008, two days after Barack Obama was elected the first black US President, Berlusconi referred to Obama as "young, handsome and even tanned": On 26 March 2009 he said "I'm paler Mr. Obama, because it's been so long since I went sunbathing.
    More Details Hide Details He's more handsome, younger and taller."
    Also in 2008, Berlusconi caused controversy at a joint press conference with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
    More Details Hide Details When a journalist from the Russian paper Nezavisimaya Gazeta asked a question about Mr. Putin's personal relationships, Berlusconi made a gesture towards the journalist imitating a gunman shooting.
    In 2008 Berlusconi criticised the composition of the Council of Ministers of the Spanish Government as being too 'pink' by virtue of the fact that it has (once the President of the Council, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, is counted) an equal number of men and women.
    More Details Hide Details He also stated that he doubted that such a composition would be possible in Italy given the "prevalence of men" in Italian politics.
    In the run-up to the 2008 Italian general election, Berlusconi was angrily accused of sexism for saying that female politicians from the right were "more beautiful" and that "the left has no taste, even when it comes to women".
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    On 21 November 2008, the National Council of Forza Italia, chaired by Alfredo Biondi and attended by Berlusconi himself, dissolved Forza Italia and established The People of Freedom, whose inauguration took place on 27 March 2009, the 15th anniversary of Berlusconi's first electoral victory.
    More Details Hide Details While Forza Italia had never held a formal party congress to formulate its rules, procedures, and democratic balloting for candidates and issues, (since 1994 three party conventions of Forza Italia have been held, all of them resolving to support Berlusconi and reelecting him by acclamation) on 27 March 2009, at the foundation congress of the People of Freedom political movement the statute of the new party was subject to a vote of approval. On 5,820 voting delegates, 5,811 voted in favour, 4 against and 5 abstained. During that political congress Berlusconi was elected as Chairman of the People of Freedom by handraising. According to the official minutes of the congress the result favoured Berlusconi, with 100 per cent of the delegates voting for him.
    Berlusconi did so, losing versus The Economist, and being charged for all the trial costs on 5 September 2008, when the Court in Milan issued a judgment rejecting all Mr Berlusconi's claims and sentenced him to compensate for legal expenses.
    More Details Hide Details In June 2011, The Economist published a strong article dealing with Mr. Berlusconi, titled "The man who screwed an entire country". On some occasions, laws passed by the Berlusconi administration have effectively delayed ongoing trials on him. For example, the law reducing punishment for all cases of false accounting and the law on legitimate suspicion, which allowed defendants to request their cases to be moved to another court if they believe that the local judges are biased against them. Because of these legislative actions, political opponents accuse Berlusconi of passing these laws for the purpose of protecting himself from legal charges. La Repubblica, for example, sustained that Berlusconi passed 17 different laws which have advantaged himself. Berlusconi and his allies, on the other hand, maintain that such laws are consistent with everyone's right to a rapid and just trial, and with the principle of "presumption of innocence" (garantismo); furthermore, they claim that Berlusconi is being subjected to a political "witch hunt", orchestrated by certain (allegedly left-wing) judges.
    On 30 August 2008, the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi signed a historic cooperation treaty in Benghazi.
    More Details Hide Details Under its terms, Italy would pay $5 billion to Libya as compensation for its former military occupation. In exchange, Libya would take measures to combat illegal immigration coming from its shores and boost investment in Italian companies. The treaty was ratified by the Italian government on 6 February 2009, and by Libya on 2 March, during a visit to Tripoli by Berlusconi. In June Gaddafi made his first visit to Rome, where he met Prime Minister Berlusconi, Italian President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano and Senate's Speaker Renato Schifani. Gaddafi also took part in the G8 summit in L'Aquila in July as Chairman of the African Union. During the summit a warm handshake between US President Barack Obama and Muammar Gaddafi took place (the first time the Libyan leader had been greeted by a serving US president). Later, at the summit's official dinner hosted by President Giorgio Napolitano, US and Libyan leaders upset protocol by sitting next to Italian Prime Minister and G8 host Berlusconi. (According to protocol, Gaddafi should have sat three places away from Berlusconi.)
    Berlusconi and his ministers (Berlusconi IV Cabinet) were sworn in on 8 May 2008.
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    Enrico Mentana, the news anchor long seen as a guarantor of Canale 5's independence, walked out in April 2008, saying that he no longer felt "at home in a group that seems like an electoral campaign committee".
    More Details Hide Details On 24 June 2009, Berlusconi during the Confindustria young members congress in Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy has invited the advertisers to interrupt or boycott the advertising contracts with the magazines and newspapers published by Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso, in particular the la Repubblica and the newsmagazine L'espresso, calling the publishing group "shameless", because is fueling the economic crisis speaking more and more about it and accusing also to make a subversive attack against him to replace with an "un-elected". The publishing group has announced to begin legal proceedings against Berlusconi, to protect the image and the interests of the group. On 12 October 2009, Berlusconi during the Confindustria Monza and Brianza members congress, has again invited the industrialists present to a "widespread rebellion" against a "newspaper that hadn't any limits in discrediting the government and the country and indoctrinating foreign newspapers". In October 2009, Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard declared that Berlusconi "is on the verge of being added to our list of Predators of Press Freedom", which would be a first for a European leader. He also added that Italy will probably be ranked last in the European Union in the upcoming edition of the RWB press freedom index.
    He was re-elected in the parliamentary elections of April 2008 following the collapse of Prodi's government and sworn in for a third time as Prime Minister on 8 May 2008.
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    Di Pietro subsequently sued Berlusconi for aggravated defamation in June 2008.
    More Details Hide Details The public prosecutor concluded the preliminary investigation 13 November 2009, by indicting Berlusconi for the defamation offense referred to in Article 595 paragraph 2 of the Criminal Code. The Italian Chamber of Deputies then intervened in the case by passing a decree 22 September 2010, granting all Italian parliamentarians "absolute immunity" for words spoken while elected. On 5 October 2010, the court in Viterbo considered Berlusconi could not be judged or punished, because of the parliamentarian immunity Article 68 of the Italian constitution forbidding any legal prosecutions against words spoken by parliamentarians in the process of their "exercise of parliamentary duties", in conjunction with the Chamber of Deputies recently having voted for a decree to appoint Berlusconi absolute immunity for any spoken words while serving as a deputy. On 19 January 2012, this judgment was set aside by the Supreme Court, which ruled that Berlusconi had been speaking during a campaign rally and not in an institutional setting; meaning he was not covered by the immunity protection provided for by the constitutions Article 68, and consequently should face a new court trial to be held either at the Viterbo court or the Constitutional Court.
    Berlusconi has repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of the educational degree of the former Operation "Clean Hands" magistrate and leader of the Italy of Values party, Antonio Di Pietro, when he during a 2008 election rally and in an episode of the talk show Porta a Porta in March 2008, repeatedly claimed, that Di Pietro had not obtained his magistrate degree by passing the exams, but with the complicity of the secret services diverted, in order to have a judge placed in the system to overturn the parties of the so-called First Republic.
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  • 2007
    In November 2007, allegations of news manipulation caused the departure from RAI of Berlusconi's personal assistant.
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  • 2006
    On 2 December 2006, during a major demonstration of the centre-right in Rome against the government led by Romano Prodi, Berlusconi proposed the foundation of a "Freedom Party", arguing that the people and voters of the different political movements aligned to the demonstration were all part of a "people of freedom". On 18 November 2007, after claiming the collection of more than 7 million signatures (including that of Umberto Bossi) demanding that the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano call a fresh election, Berlusconi announced from the running board of a car in a crowded Piazza San Babila in Milan that Forza Italia would soon merge or transform into The People of Freedom party, also known as the PdL (Il Popolo della Libertà). Berlusconi also stated that this new political movement could include the participation of other parties. Both supporters and critics of the new party called Berlusconi's announcement "the running board revolution". After the sudden fall of the Prodi II Cabinet on 24 January, the break-up of The Union coalition and the subsequent political crisis (which paved the way for a fresh general election in April 2008), Berlusconi, Gianfranco Fini and other party leaders finally agreed on 8 February 2008 to form a joint list named The People of Freedom, allied with the Lega Nord of Umberto Bossi and with the Sicilian Movement for Autonomy of Raffaele Lombardo.
    More Details Hide Details In the snap parliamentary elections held on 13/14 April 2008, this coalition won against Walter Veltroni's centre-left coalition in both houses of the Italian Parliament. In the 315-member Senate of the Republic, Berlusconi's coalition won 174 seats to Veltroni's 134. In the lower house, Berlusconi's conservative bloc led by a margin of 9% of the vote: 46.5% (344 seats) to 37.5% (246 seats). Berlusconi capitalised on discontent over the nation's stagnating economy and the unpopularity of Prodi's government. His declared top priorities were to remove piles of trash from the streets of Naples and to improve the state of the Italian economy, which had underperformed the rest of the Eurozone for years. He also said he was open to working with the opposition, and pledged to fight tax evasion, reform justice and reduce public debt. He intended to reduce the number of Cabinet ministers to 12.
    Centrist parties such as the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats immediately conceded The Union's victory, while other parties, like Berlusconi's Forza Italia and the Northern League, refused to accept its validity, right up until 2 May 2006, when Berlusconi submitted his resignation to President Ciampi.
    More Details Hide Details In the run-up to the 2006 general election, there had been talk among some of the coalition members of the House of Freedoms about a possible merger into a "united party of moderates and reformers". Forza Italia, the National Alliance party of Gianfranco Fini, and the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats of Pier Ferdinando Casini all seemed interested in the project. Soon after the election, however, Casini started to distance his party from its historical allies.
    In March 2006, Berlusconi alleged that Chinese communists under Mao Zedong had "boiled children to fertilise the fields".
    More Details Hide Details His opponent Romano Prodi criticised Berlusconi for offending the Chinese people and called his comments 'unthinkable'.
  • 2005
    He caused further offence in 2005, when he claimed that during the negotiations he had had to "dust off his playboy charms" in order to persuade the Finnish president, Tarja Halonen, to concede that the EFSA should be based in Parma instead of Finland, and compared Finnish smoked reindeer unfavourably to culatello.
    More Details Hide Details The Italian ambassador in Helsinki was summoned by the Finnish foreign minister. One of Berlusconi's ministers later 'explained' the comment by saying that "anyone who had seen a picture of Halonen must have been aware that he had been joking". Halonen took the incident in good humour, retorting that Berlusconi had "overestimated his persuasion skills". The Finnish pizza chain Kotipizza responded by launching a variety of pizza called Pizza Berlusconi, using smoked reindeer as the topping. The pizza won first prize in America's Plate International pizza contest in March 2008.
    Berlusconi after some hesitation, then presented to the President of the Republic a request for the dissolution of his government on 20 April 2005.
    More Details Hide Details On 23 April, he formed a new government with the same allies, reshuffling ministers and amending the government programme. A key point demanded by the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats (and to a lesser extent by National Alliance) for their continued support was that the strong focus on tax reduction central to the government's ambitions be changed. A key point in the Berlusconi government's programme was a planned reform of the Italian Constitution, which Berlusconi considered to be 'inspired by the Soviets', an issue the coalition parties themselves initially had significantly different opinions about. The Lega Nord insisted on a federalist reform (devolution of more power to the regions) as a condition for remaining in the coalition. The National Alliance party pushed for a so-called 'strong premiership' (more powers to the executive), intended as a counterweight to any federalist reform, in order to preserve the integrity of the nation. The Union of Christian and Centre Democrats asked for a proportional electoral law that would not damage small parties, and was generally more willing to discuss compromises with the moderate wing of the opposition.
  • 2003
    Italy, with Berlusconi in office, became a solid ally of the United States due to his support in the War in Afghanistan and the Iraq War following the 2003 invasion of Iraq in the War on Terror.
    More Details Hide Details Berlusconi, in his meetings with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and U.S. President George W. Bush, said that he pushed for "a clear turnaround in the Iraqi situation" and for a quick handover of sovereignty to the government chosen by the Iraqi people. Italy had some 3,200 troops deployed in Southern Iraq, the third largest contingent there after the American and British forces. When Romano Prodi became Premier, Italian troops were gradually withdrawn from Iraq in the second half of 2006 with the last soldiers leaving the country in December of that year. In November 2007, Italy's state-owned energy company Eni signed an agreement with Russian state-owned Gazprom to build the South Stream pipeline. Investigating Italian parliament members discovered that Central Energy Italian Gas Holding (CEIGH), a part of the Centrex Group, was to play a major role in the lucrative agreement. Bruno Mentasti-Granelli, a close friend of Berlusconi, owned 33 percent of CEIGH. The Italian parliament blocked the contract and accused Berlusconi of having a personal interest in the Eni-Gazprom agreement.
    Difficulties in arranging a mediation caused some internal unrest in the Berlusconi government in 2003, but then they were mostly overcome and the law (comprising power devolution to the regions, Federal Senate and "strong premiership") was passed by the Senate in April 2004; it was slightly modified by the Chamber of Deputies in October 2004, and again in October 2005, and finally approved by the Senate on 16 November 2005, with a bare majority.
    More Details Hide Details Approval in a referendum is necessary in order to amend the Italian Constitution without a qualified two-thirds parliamentary majority. The referendum was held on 25–26 July 2006 and resulted in the rejection of the constitutional reform, refused by 61.3% of the voters. Operating under a new electoral law written unilaterally by the governing parties over strong criticism from the parliamentary opposition, the April 2006 general election was held. The results of this election handed Romano Prodi's centre-left coalition, known as The Union, (Berlusconi's opposition) a very thin majority: 49.8% against 49.7% for the centre-right coalition House of Freedoms in the Lower House, and a two-senator lead in the Senate (158 senators for The Union and 156 for the House of Freedoms). The Court of Cassation subsequently validated the voting procedures and determined that the election process was constitutional.
  • 2001
    After the 11 September 2001 attacks in New York, Berlusconi said: "We must be aware of the superiority of our civilisation, a system that has guaranteed well-being, respect for human rights and – in contrast with Islamic countries – respect for religious and political rights, a system that has as its value understanding of diversity and tolerance."
    More Details Hide Details This declaration caused an uproar, not only in the Arab and Muslim world, but also all around Europe, including Italy. Subsequently Berlusconi told the press: "We are aware of the crucial role of moderate Arab countries... I am sorry that words that have been misunderstood have offended the sensitivity of my Arab and Muslim friends." After the family of Eluana Englaro (who had been comatose for 17 years) succeeded in having her right to die recognized by the judges and getting doctors to start the process of allowing her to die in the way established by the court, Berlusconi issued a decree to stop the doctor from letting her die. Stating that, "This is murder. I would be failing to rescue her. I'm not a Pontius Pilate". Berlusconi went on to defend his decision by claiming that she was "in the condition to have babies", arguing that comatose women were still subject to menstruation.
    This was considered to be a creative masterstroke in his 2001 bid for prime ministership.
    More Details Hide Details Berlusconi committed in this contract to improve several aspects of the Italian economy and life. Firstly, he undertook to simplify the complex tax system by introducing just two tax rates (33% for those earning over 100,000 euros, and 23% for anyone earning less than that figure: anyone earning less than 11,000 euros a year would not be taxed). Secondly, he promised to halve the unemployment rate. Thirdly, he undertook to finance and develop a massive new public works programme. Fourthly, he promised to raise the minimum monthly pension rate to 516 euros. Fifthly, he would suppress the crime wave by introducing police officers to patrol all local zones and areas in Italy's major cities. Berlusconi undertook to refrain from putting himself up for re-election in 2006, if he failed to honour at least four of these five promises.
    Berlusconi's success in the May 2001 general election led to him becoming Prime Minister once more, with the coalition receiving 45.4% of the vote for the Chamber of Deputies and 42.5% for the Senate.
    More Details Hide Details On the television interviews programme Porta a Porta, during the last days of the electoral campaign, Berlusconi created a powerful impression on the public by undertaking to sign a so-called Contratto con gli Italiani, an idea copied outright by his advisor Luigi Crespi from Newt Gingrich's Contract with America introduced six weeks before the 1994 US Congressional election.
    In 2001, Berlusconi ran again, as leader of the right-wing coalition House of Freedoms, which included the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats, the Lega Nord, the National Alliance and other parties.
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  • TWENTIES
  • 1998
    In 1998, various articles attacking Berlusconi were published by Lega Nord's official newspaper (www.lapadania.it), with titles such as "La Fininvest è nata da Cosa Nostra" – "Fininvest (Berlusconi's principal company) was founded by the Mafia".
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  • 1996
    Similarly, a two-year investigation, also launched on evidence from Cancemi, into Berlusconi's alleged association with the Mafia was closed in 1996.
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    In 1996, Berlusconi and his coalition lost the elections and were replaced by a centre-left government led by Romano Prodi.
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  • 1994
    Also frequently cited by opponents are events dating to the 1980s, including supposed "favour exchanges" between Berlusconi and Bettino Craxi, the former Socialist prime minister and leader of the Italian Socialist Party convicted in 1994, for various corruption charges.
    More Details Hide Details The Milan magistrates who indicted and successfully convicted Mr. Craxi in their "Clean Hands" investigation laid bare an entrenched system in which businessmen paid hundreds of millions of dollars to political parties or individual politicians in exchange for sweetheart deals with Italian state companies and the government itself. Berlusconi acknowledges a personal friendship with Craxi. On 28 May 2013, Berlusconi and his entourage launched an online initiative which consisted in the recruitment of volunteers, who are available to defend Berlusconi from the convictions of Milan's prosecutors, who are dealing with his trials, and who, Berlusconi often accused of being communists and anti-democratic. Simone Furlan, the creator of the army said in an interview: "There comes a time in life, when you realize that fighting for an ideal is no longer a choice but an obligation. We civil society we were helpless spectators of the "War of the Twenty Years" which saw Berlusconi fight and defend against slanderous accusations of all kinds, the result of a judicial persecution without precedent in history".
    He was appointed Prime Minister in 1994, but his term in office was short because of the inherent contradictions in his coalition: the League, a regional party with a strong electoral base in northern Italy, was at that time fluctuating between federalist and separatist positions, and the National Alliance was a nationalist party that had yet to renounce neo-fascism at the time.
    More Details Hide Details In December 1994, following the leaking to the press of news of a fresh investigation by Milan magistrates, Umberto Bossi, leader of the Lega Nord, left the coalition claiming that the electoral pact had not been respected, forcing Berlusconi to resign from office and shifting the majority's weight to the centre-left. Lega Nord also resented the fact that many of its MPs had switched to Forza Italia, allegedly lured by promises of more prestigious portfolios.
    In order to win the March 1994 general election, Berlusconi formed two separate electoral alliances: Pole of Freedoms (Polo delle Libertà) with the Lega Nord (Northern League) in northern Italian districts, and another, the Pole of Good Government (Polo del Buon Governo), with the National Alliance (Alleanza Nazionale; heir to the Italian Social Movement) in central and southern regions.
    More Details Hide Details In a pragmatic move, he did not ally with the latter in the North because the League disliked them. As a result, Forza Italia was allied with two parties that were not allied with each other. Berlusconi launched a massive campaign of electoral advertisements on his three TV networks, grooming with seminars and screen tests his top advertisement salesmen, of whom 50, subsequently elected though devoid of legislative experience, came from his own advertising company alone. He subsequently won the elections, with Forza Italia garnering 21% of the popular vote, the highest percentage of any single party. One of the most significant promises that he made in order to secure victory was that his government would create "one million more jobs".
    On 26 January 1994, Berlusconi announced his decision to enter politics, ("enter the field", in his own words) presenting his own political party, Forza Italia, on a platform focused on defeating the Communists.
    More Details Hide Details His political aim was to convince the voters of the Pentapartito, who were shocked and confused by Mani Pulite scandals, that Forza Italia offered both a fresh uniqueness and the continuation of the pro-western free market policies followed by Italy since the end of the Second World War. Shortly after he decided to enter the political arena, investigators into the Mani Pulite affair were said to be close to issuing warrants for the arrest of Berlusconi and senior executives of his business group. During his political career Berlusconi repeatedly stated that the Mani Pulite investigations were led by communist prosecutors who wanted to establish a soviet-style government in Italy.
    He subsequently served as Prime Minister of Italy from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006, and 2008 to 2011.
    More Details Hide Details His career was racked with controversies and trials; amongst these was his failure to honour his promise to sell his personal assets in Mediaset, the largest television broadcaster in Italy, in order to dispel any perceived conflicts of interest. In the early 1990s, the Pentapartito – the five governing parties, Christian Democracy (Democrazia Cristiana), the Italian Socialist Party, the Italian Social-Democratic Party, the Italian Republican Party and the Italian Liberal Party – lost much of their electoral strength almost overnight due to a large number of judicial investigations concerning the financial corruption of many of their foremost members (see the Mani Pulite affair). This led to a general expectation that upcoming elections would be won by the Democratic Party of the Left, the heirs to the former Italian Communist Party, and their Alliance of Progressives coalition – unless an alternative arose.
    Berlusconi's political career began in 1994, when he entered politics, reportedly admitting to Indro Montanelli and Enzo Biagi that he was forced to do so to avoid imprisonment.
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    He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies for the first time and appointed as Prime Minister following the 1994 parliamentary elections, when Forza Italia gained a relative majority a mere three months after having been launched.
    More Details Hide Details However, his cabinet collapsed after nine months, due to internal disagreements among the coalition parties. In the April 1996 snap parliamentary elections, Berlusconi was defeated by the centre-left candidate Romano Prodi. In the May 2001 parliamentary elections, he was again the centre-right candidate for Prime Minister and won against the centre-left candidate Francesco Rutelli. Berlusconi then formed his second and third cabinets, until 2006. Berlusconi was leader of the centre-right coalition in the April 2006 parliamentary elections, which he lost by a very narrow margin, his opponent again being Romano Prodi.
    Berlusconi rapidly rose to the forefront of Italian politics in January 1994.
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  • 1993
    The Graviano brothers allegedly treated directly with Berlusconi through the business-man Gianni Letta, somewhere between September/October 1993. The alleged pact with the Mafia fell apart in 2002.
    More Details Hide Details Cosa Nostra had achieved nothing. Dell'Utri's lawyer, Enrico Trantino, dismissed Giuffrè's allegations as an "anthology of hearsay". He said Giuffrè had perpetuated the trend that every new turncoat would attack Dell'Utri and the former Christian Democrat prime minister Giulio Andreotti in order to earn money and judicial privileges. In October 2009, Gaspare Spatuzza, a Mafioso turned pentito in 2008, has confirmed Giuffrè statements. Spatuzza testified that his boss Giuseppe Graviano had told him in 1994, that Berlusconi was bargaining with the Mafia, concerning a political-electoral agreement between Cosa Nostra and Berlusconi's Forza Italia. Spatuzza said Graviano disclosed the information to him during a conversation in a bar Graviano owned in the upscale Via Veneto district of the Italian capital Rome. Dell'Utri was the intermediary, according to Spatuzza. Dell'Utri has dismissed Spatuzza's allegations as "nonsense". Berlusconi's lawyer and MP for the PdL, Niccolò Ghedini said that "the statements given by Spatuzza about prime minister Berlusconi are baseless and can be in no way verified."
  • 1992
    The Mafia's fall out with the Christian Democrats became clear when Salvo Lima was killed in March 1992. "The Lima murder marked the end of an era," Giuffrè told the court. "A new era opened with a new political force on the horizon which provided the guarantees that the Christian Democrats were no longer able to deliver.
    More Details Hide Details To be clear, that party was Forza Italia." Dell'Utri was the go-between on a range of legislative efforts to ease pressure on mafiosi in exchange for electoral support, according to Giuffrè. "Dell'Utri was very close to Cosa Nostra and a very good contact point for Berlusconi," he said. Mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano told Giuffrè that they "were in good hands" with Dell'Utri, who was a "serious and trustworthy person". Provenzano stated that the Mafia's judicial problems would be resolved within 10 years after 1992, thanks to the undertakings given by Forza Italia. Giuffrè also said that Berlusconi himself used to be in touch with Stefano Bontade, a top Mafia boss, in the mid-1970s. At the time Berlusconi still was just a wealthy real estate developer and started his private television empire. Bontade visited Berlusconi's villa in Arcore through his contact Vittorio Mangano. Berlusconi's lawyer dismissed Giuffrè's testimony as "false" and an attempt to discredit the Prime Minister and his party. Giuffrè said that other Mafia representatives who were in contact with Berlusconi included the Palermo Mafia bosses Filippo Graviano and Giuseppe Graviano.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1985
    He was divorced from Dall'Oglio in 1985, and married Lario in 1990. By this time, Berlusconi was a well-known entrepreneur, and his wedding was a notable social event. One of his best men was Bettino Craxi, a former prime minister and leader of the Italian Socialist Party. In May 2009, Lario announced that she was to file for divorce.
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  • 1984
    Berlusconi created the first and only Italian commercial TV empire. He was assisted by his connections to Bettino Craxi, secretary-general of the Italian Socialist Party and also prime minister of Italy at that time, whose government passed, on 20 October 1984, an emergency decree legalising the nationwide transmissions made by Berlusconi's television stations.
    More Details Hide Details This was in response to judgements on 16 October 1984, in Turin, Pescara and Rome, enforcing a law which previously restricted nationwide broadcasting to RAI, that had ordered these private networks to cease transmitting. After political turmoil in 1985, the decree was approved definitively. But for some years, Berlusconi's three channels remained in a legal limbo, and were not allowed to broadcast news and political commentary. They were elevated to the status of full national TV channels in 1990, by the so-called Mammì law. In 1995, Berlusconi sold a portion of his media holdings, first to the German media group Kirch Group (now bankrupt) and then by public offer. In 1999, Berlusconi expanded his media interests by forming a partnership with Kirch called the Epsilon MediaGroup. On 9 July 2011, a Milan court ordered Fininvest to pay 560 million euros in damages to Compagnie Industriali Riunite in a long-running legal dispute.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1980
    In 1980, Berlusconi founded Italy's first private national network, Canale 5, followed shortly thereafter by Italia 1, which was bought from the Rusconi family in 1982, and Rete 4, which was bought from Mondadori in 1984.
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    By 1980, Berlusconi had established a relationship with the actress Veronica Lario (born Miriam Bartolini), with whom he subsequently had three children: Barbara (born 1984), Eleonora (born 1986) and Luigi (born 1988).
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  • 1978
    In 1978, Berlusconi founded his first media group, Fininvest, and joined the Propaganda Due masonic lodge.
    More Details Hide Details In the five years leading up to 1983 he earned some 113 billion Italian lire (€58.3 million). The funding sources are still unknown because of a complex system of holding companies, despite investigations conducted by various state attorneys. Fininvest soon expanded into a country-wide network of local TV stations which had similar programming, forming, in effect, a single national network. This was seen as breaching the Italian public broadcaster RAI's statutory monopoly by creating a national network, which was later abolished.
  • 1977
    After buying two further channels, Berlusconi relocated the station to central Milan in 1977 and began broadcasting over the airwaves.
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  • 1973
    Berlusconi first entered the media world in 1973, by setting up a small cable television company, Telemilano, to service units built on his Segrate properties.
    More Details Hide Details It began transmitting in September the following year.
  • OTHER
  • 1965
    In 1965, he married Carla Elvira Dall'Oglio, and they had two children: Maria Elvira, better known as Marina (born 1966), and Pier Silvio (born 1969).
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  • 1961
    Berlusconi's career as an entrepreneur is also often questioned by his detractors. The allegations made against him generally include suspicions about the extremely fast increase of his activity as a construction entrepreneur in years 1961–63, hinting at the possibility that in those years he received money from unknown and possibly illegal sources.
    More Details Hide Details These accusations are regarded by Berlusconi and his supporters as empty slander, trying to undermine Berlusconi's reputation as a self-made man.
  • 1936
    Berlusconi was born in Milan in 1936, where he was raised in a middle-class family.
    More Details Hide Details His father, Luigi Berlusconi (1908–1989), was a bank employee, and his mother, Rosa Bossi (1911–2008), a housewife. Silvio was the first of three children; he had a sister, Maria Francesca Antonietta Berlusconi (1943–2009), and has a brother, Paolo Berlusconi (born 1949). After completing his secondary school education at a Salesian college, he studied law at the Università Statale in Milan, graduating (with honours) in 1961, with a thesis on the legal aspects of advertising. Berlusconi was not required to serve the standard one-year stint in the Italian army which was compulsory at the time. During his university studies, he was an upright bass player in a group formed with the now Mediaset Chairman and amateur pianist Fedele Confalonieri and occasionally performed as a cruise ship crooner. In later life, he wrote AC Milan's anthem with the Italian music producer and pop singer Tony Renis and Forza Italia's anthem with the opera director Renato Serio. With the Neapolitan singer Mariano Apicella, he wrote two Neapolitan song albums: Meglio 'na canzone in 2003 and L'ultimo amore in 2006.
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