Silvio Berlusconi

Silvio Berlusconi
Enlarge picture
Silvio Berlusconi

PresidentCarlo Azeglio Ciampi
DeputyGiulio Tremonti
Gianfranco Fini
Marco Follini
from 12/03/2004, to 18/04/2005
Preceded by
Succeeded by

Nationality Italian
Political partyForza Italia
SpouseCarla Dall'Oglio (1965)
Veronica Lario (1985)
ChildrenMarina Berlusconi
Pier Silvio Berlusconi
Barbara Berlusconi
Eleonora Berlusconi
Luigi Berlusconi
Residence Arcore, Italy
Alma materUniversità statale di Milano
ReligionRoman Catholic

Silvio Berlusconi  (born September 29, 1936) is an Italian politician, entrepreneur, and media proprietor. He is the leader of the Forza Italia political movement, a centre-right party he founded in 1993 in Rome. Berlusconi has twice held office as prime minister of Italy, most recently from 2001 to 2006.

Berlusconi is the founder and main shareholder of Fininvest, among the ten largest Italian privately-owned companies[1], operating in media and finance including three national TV channels. Together these account for nearly half the Italian TV market. He owns three (out of seven) national television channels as well as some of the country's most important newspapers. He is also well known for being, since 1986, the president of A.C. Milan, a prominent Italian football team. Under his presidency it has won a number of national and international trophies. According to Forbes magazine, Berlusconi is Italy's richest person, a self-made man (see section) with personal assets worth $11 billion (USD) in 2006, making him the world's 37th richest person. His rise in the political arena was extremely rapid. He was elected President of the Council of Ministers following the March 1994 elections, when Forza Italia gained a relative majority a mere three months after having been officially launched. He formed the first unabashedly right-wing administration in 34 years. However, his cabinet collapsed after seven months, due to internal disagreements in the centre-right coalition. In the 1996 elections, he ran for Prime Minister again but was defeated by centre-left candidate Romano Prodi. From 1996 to 2001 he was the leader of the parliamentary opposition. In the 2001 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 governments, which together lasted five years.

Berlusconi was leader of the centre-right coalition in the May 2006 elections, which he lost by a very narrow margin, his counterpart being again Romano Prodi. On 17 May, 2006 he was formally succeeded by Prodi.

In economics, Berlusconi has endorsed conservative policies, such as lowering taxes and generally placing fewer constraints on enterprise, in an effort to encourage growth. In foreign policy, his views have been strongly pro-American, even at the expense of causing some damage to relations with other European countries; in particular he supported George W. Bush in the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq by sending Italian troops to join the "Coalition of the Willing" (after the attack, only for peacekeeping). In social policy matters the Berlusconi government has implemented a conservative program: passing stricter laws concerning immigration, artificial insemination and drug use.

His ownership of an Italian television network has been controversial. According to Berlusconi's adversaries, the Mediaset (Fininvest's media division) TV channels have played a crucial role in his political success by airing propaganda during news or other information-oriented programming. In contrast, his supporters claim that the networks have always maintained a neutral political stance. After Berlusconi's election as Prime Minister, the left accused him of also abusing his position as premier to control the publicly owned RAI TV channels. In practice, they maintain, this permits him to control almost all TV sources of information, while the right insists that the RAI channels are, if anything, biased in favor of the centre-left. According to independent observers[2], two of the State channels (Rai 1 and Rai 2) had been indeed controlled by Berlusconi's government, while Rai 3 managed to retain independence and a critical stance. Such control, in a famous example, was displayed when Berlusconi called Member of European Parliament Martin Schultz a "Nazi kapo", and the Rai 1 news program showed the incident with no audio and offering a misleading account. Political debate in Italy has become rather alienating, as the contenders often seem to completely lack a shared information source regarded as neutral and reliable. Although Berlusconi officially resigned from all functions in his commercial group in 1994 upon entering political office, he is still the largest shareholder and is perceived to have retained control.

Family background and private life

Berlusconi was raised in an upper middle-class family in Milan. His father Luigi (1908-89) worked with increasing responsibilities at Banca Rasini. This was a small bank in Milan which was later claimed to be involved in money laundering for the Sicilian mafia. His mother was Rosa Bossi. Silvio was the first of three children, the others being Maria Antonietta Berlusconi (born 1943) and Paolo Berlusconi (born 1949), now both entrepreneurs.

After completing his secondary school education at a Salesian college, he studied law at the Università Statale in Milan, graduating cum laude with a thesis on the legal aspects of advertising in 1961. Berlusconi was not required to serve the standard one-year stint in the army which was compulsory at the time.

In 1965 he married Carla Dall'Oglio, and they had two children: Maria Elvira, better known as Marina (born 1966) and Pier Silvio (b. 1968). Years later, Berlusconi established a durable relationship with the actress Veronica Lario (born Miriam Bartolini), with whom he had three children: Barbara (b. 1984), Eleonora (b. 1986) and Luigi (b. 1988). He was divorced from Dall'Oglio in 1985, and married Lario in 1990. At this time, Berlusconi was a well-known entrepreneur, and his wedding was a notable social event. One of the best men for the wedding was former Prime Minister Bettino Craxi, who was Berlusconi's witness.

Business career

Enlarge picture
Silvio Berlusconi with Bettino Craxi, the Prime Minister of Italy at the time.

Milano 2

Berlusconi's business career began in the building construction business in the 1960s. In the late 1960s, he had the idea of developing Milano 2, a garden city of around 3,500 flats. It was built on the eastern outskirts of Milan beneath the flight path of aircraft taking off from nearby Linate airport. Suddenly, flights were diverted to a new airport and his investment became valuable.

His first entry into the media world was in 1973 by means of a cable television station, Telemilano, designed to service his Milano 2 residential development.


In 1978 Berlusconi formed his first media group, Fininvest, which in the five years leading up to 1983 earned 113 billion lire (the equivalent of about 260 million euro at 1997 values). The funding sources are still unknown because of the complex system of holding companies that makes them impossible to trace, despite investigations conducted by various state attorneys. Among the banks involved in this transfer of funds was Banca Rasini.

Fininvest 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 public broadcaster RAI's statutory monopoly on creating a national network which was later abolished. 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. Only at this point, enforcing the law which then reserved national broadcasting to RAI exclusively, the judges of Turin, Pescara and Rome ordered that these private networks cease and desist. But Berlusconi was strongly aided in his successful effort to create the first and only Italian commercial TV empire by his links to Bettino Craxi, secretary-general of the Italian Socialist Party and also prime minister of Italy at that time. Craxi, with an urgent decree, legalized the national broadcasts made by Berlusconi's television stations. After some political turmoil in 1985 the decree was definitively approved. For some years, the three channels owned by Berlusconi existed in this strange limbo, and were not therefore allowed, for instance, to broadcast news and political commentary. They were fully elevated to national TV channels in 1990 with the so-called Mammì law.

In 1990, Berlusconi produced the Oscar winning film, Mediterraneo.

In 1995, Berlusconi sold a portion of his media holdings, first to the German media group Kirch (now bankrupt) and then by public offer. In 1999 Berlusconi expanded again in the media business in a partnership with Kirch called the Epsilon MediaGroup.

Current assets

Berlusconi's main company Mediaset, comprises three national television channels, which hold approximately half the national viewing audience, and Publitalia, the leading Italian advertising and publicity agency. He also owns Arnoldo Mondadori, the largest Italian publishing house, whose publications include Panorama, one of the most popular news magazine in Italy. He has interests in cinema and home video distribution firms (Medusa and Penta), insurance and banking (Mediolanum) and a variety of other activities. His brother Paolo owns and operates Il Giornale, a centre-right newspaper which is widely regarded as openly pro-Berlusconi publication. Il Giornale often focuses on Berlusconi's personal interests at the cost of disregarding current events. His wife is one of the owners of Il Foglio, an atypical daily newspaper which host contribution from people of wide-ranging political views. The results from an internal poll, conducted in 2006, highlighted a majority of liberal oriented journalists however several indicated the biggest communist party, Rifondazione Comunista, as their predilection.

Berlusconi also owns the football club AC Milan. Some think has been an important factor in his political success ("Forza Italia" means "Go Italy!"). Before the party was founded it was connected to football supporters of the national team.[3]

Political career

"Entering the field"

In the early 1990s, the two largest Italian political parties, the Christian Democrats (Democrazia Cristiana) and the Socialist Party (Partito Socialista Italiano) lost much of their electoral strength 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 (Partito Democratico della Sinistra), (the former Communist Party) and their allies in the Progressive coalition unless there was a strong alternative. Berlusconi publicly announced on January 26th, 1994 his decision to enter politics ("Entering the field", in his own words) on a platform centered on the defeat of Communism. The timing of his announcement raised some questions, however, because, just a couple of weeks before he decided to enter politics, investigators into the Mani Pulite affair were close to issuing warrants for the arrest of him as well as the chief executives of his business group.

The debate about motives

One of the most debated matters about Berlusconi concerns the true reasons that Berlusconi entered into politics in the first place.

Many well informed people have argued that Berlusconi entered into politics for completely self-interested reasons: saving his own companies from bankruptcy and himself from convictions. According to journalist Marco Travaglio, Berlusconi "never hid [this motive] from anyone. From the very beginning he said it clearly to his associates (and also to Biagi and to Montanelli): If I don't enter politics, I'm going to jail and into bankruptcy".[4] From the very beginning he said it clearly to his associates. On the other hand, Berlusconi's supporters hailed him as the "new man", an outsider who was going to bring a new efficiency to the public bureaucracy and reform the state from top to bottom. They argued that he was too rich to have any interest in using politics to become even richer, and that, regarding his judicial trials, his opponents were just trying to get rid of him by way of judicial persecution.

While investigating these matters, three journalists23 noted the following facts:
  • Mediobanca's annual report about the 10 biggest Italian companies showed that, in 1992, Berlusconi's media and finance group Fininvest had about 7,140 billion lire of debts, 8,193 billion lire of assets (with 35% of liquidity) and a net worth (that is, assets minus debts) of 1,053 billion lire. A patrimonial situation far to be considered at risk of bankruptcy (that means liquidity less than short-run debts).
  • Between 1992 and 1993, Forza/Fininvest had undergone several judicial investigations by Milano, Turin and Rome prosecutors. They regarded: alleged bribes (to political parties and public officers with the aim of getting contracts), alleged fake invoices of Publitalia, political congress financing and television frequencies.

1994 electoral victory

Berlusconi founded Forza Italia only two months before the 1994 elections. He formed two separate electoral alliances: one with the Northern League (Lega Nord) in northern Italian districts, and another, the Alliance for Freedom, with the right-wing National Alliance (Alleanza Nazionale; heir to the Italian Social Movement) in central and southern regions. In a shrewd 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. He subsequently won the elections, with Forza Italia raking in 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". 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 oscillating between federalist and separatist positions, and the National Alliance was a nationalist party that had yet to renounce neo-fascism at the time.

Fall of the Berlusconi I administration

In December 1994, 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 side. Lega Nord also resented the fact that many of its MPs had switched to Forza Italia, allegedly lured by promises of more prestigious portfolios. Berlusconi remained as caretaker prime minister for a little over a month until his replacement by a technocratic government headed by Lamberto Dini. Dini had been a key minister in the Berlusconi cabinet, and Berlusconi said the only way he would support a technocratic government would be if Dini headed it. In the end, however, Dini was only supported by most opposition parties but not by Forza Italia and Lega Nord. In 1996, this coalition was replaced, after a new election, by a centre-left government (without the liberal middle-right Lega Nord party) lead by Romano Prodi [1].

Electoral victory of 2001

In 2001 Berlusconi again ran as leader of the centre-right coalition House of Freedoms (Casa delle Libertà) which included National Alliance, UDC (United Christian Democrats), Northern League and other parties. Berlusconi's success in this 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.

In a TV show during the electoral campaign, Berlusconi signed the so-called Contratto con gli Italiani (agreement with Italians), that was likely a key step to achieve the victory. In this unofficial agreement, Berlusconi claimed he could improve several aspects of the Italian economy and life, including lowering taxes, increasing employment, building up new public works, increasing retirement rents and strangling crime. He asserted that he would retire from politics if this contract would not be respected.

Opposition parties have always asserted that Berlusconi was not able to achieve the goals he claimed in Contratto con gli Italiani. The National Alliance and UDC (Berlusconi's allied parties) also asserted that the Government did not manage to respect the promises in the agreement. According to them, Berlusconi's failure was due to the unfavourable economical condition that Italy was experiencing. In particular, the Italian GDP grew very slowly during Berlusconi's Government, and the public debt rose quickly. On the other hand, Berlusconi himself has always claimed he achieved all the goals of the agreement, and said his Government provided un miracolo continuo (a continuous miracle).

Subsequent elections

Casa delle Libertà did not do as well in the 2003 local elections as it did in the 2001 national elections. And, in common with many other European governing groups, in the 2004 elections of the European Parliament, gaining 43.37% support. Forza Italia's support was also reduced from 29.5% to 21.0% (in the 1999 European elections Forza Italia had 25.2%). As an outcome of these results the other coalition parties, whose electoral results were more satisfactory, asked Berlusconi and Forza Italia for greater influence in the government's political line.

The Berlusconi III Cabinet

In the 2005 Local Elections (April 3 and April 4, 2005), the candidates supported by the Union Coalition (formerly known as Olive Tree) won in 12 out of 14 regions which were renovating local governments and Governor; Berlusconi's coalition held in only two regions (Lombardy and Veneto). Two parties (UDC and Socialist Party) left the Berlusconi government. Berlusconi thus presented to the President of the Republic the dissolution of his government on April 20 2005, after much hesitation. On April 23 he formed a new government with the same allies, reshuffling the ministers and amending the government program. A key point required by UDC (and to a minor extent by AN) was to reduce the focus on tax reduction the government had had in the past.

There have been some criticisms on Berlusconi's choices especially on the appointment as new ministry of Health, position previously held by Girolamo Sirchia - a renowned Professor and doctor-, of Francesco Storace, who, only a few weeks earlier, was the President of Lazio Region.

The 2006 Elections

In the 2006 Parliamentary Elections, the results have given Prodi's bloc (Berlusconi's opposition) the majority (49.8% against 49.7% for the ruling centre-right in the Lower House and a two-senator lead in the Senate, 158 vs 156). This situation has assigned to Prodi the possibility to form a new cabinet, because of the recent modification to electoral rules introduced by Berlusconi's cabinet. The center-left coalition, with a margin of 25,224 votes (out of over 38 million voters), nevertheless won 348 seats (versus 281 for Casa delle Libertà) because of the majority premium. Ironically, the same electoral law that Berlusconi had forced through shortly before the election, and for which he had been accused of changing the law so that he would win anyway, caused his defeat.

The Court of Cassation has validated the voting procedures and determined that the election process was constitutional, thus confirming at present the election results.

Centrist parties like UDC immediately conceded the Unione's victory, while more right wing elements, like Berlusconi's Forza Italia and Lega Nord, still refused to accept its validity, right up until May 2, 2006, when Berlusconi submitted his resignation to president Ciampi [2].


Enlarge picture
George W. Bush shakes hands with Silvio Berlusconi, during his visit to the Oval Office, Monday, October 31, 2005. White House photo by Eric Draper.
As he founded his Forza Italia party and entered politics, Berlusconi expressed support for "freedom, the individual, family, enterprise, Italian tradition, Christian tradition and love for weaker people" [3]. Forza Italia could be considered a liberal party on economical issues, although references to liberalism were more common in the initial years of the party development than they are now; some consider Forza Italia a populist party. However, Forza Italia officially joined the European People's Party in 1999, theoretically choosing to be identified mainly as a Christian Democratic party. Internal democracy in the party is very low and internal dissent virtually non-existent. There are no known factions or currents; at present three party conventions have been held, all of them resolved to support Berlusconi, and his re-election by acclamation. Every man in the party apparatus is appointed by Berlusconi himself: for all these reasons, its political opponents call Forza Italia "the plastic party".

Some allies of Berlusconi, especially Lega Nord (Northern League) push for a strong control of immigration and getting their support has required some changes in policies from Berlusconi. Berlusconi himself has shown some reluctance to pursue such policies as strongly as his allies might like. [4] Even so, a number of measures have been taken, but the effects are controversial. The government, after introducing a controversial immigration law (the "Bossi-Fini", from the names of Lega Nord and Alleanza Nazionale leaders) is searching for the cooperation of both European and other Mediterranean countries to face the emergency of the large number of immigrants trying to reach Italian coasts on old and overloaded ferries and fishing boats, risking (and, often, losing) their life.

The Berlusconi government has had a strong tendency to support American foreign policies despite the policy divide between the U.S. and many other founding members of European Union (Germany, France, Belgium), a break from the traditional Italian foreign policy. Italy, with Berlusconi in office, became a substantial ally to the United States due to his support of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.

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 hand-over of sovereignty to the government chosen by the U.N. Italy had some 2,700 troops deployed in Southern Iraq, the third largest contingent there after the American and British forces. Italian troops were gradually withdrawn from Iraq in the second half of 2006 with the last soldiers leaving the country in December of the same year.

During his electoral campaign, Berlusconi appeared in a tv show signing a "Contract with the Italians" where he engaged that his government would reduce taxes and simplify the taxation system for both privates and enterprises. This project was however only partially fulfilled.

A key point of the government program was the planned reform of the Italian Constitution (which Berlusconi said to be "inspired by Soviets"[5]), an issue the coalition parties themselves initially had significantly different opinions about, with Lega Nord insisting on the federal reform (devolution of more power to the Regions) as the condition itself for remaining in the coalition; Alleanza Nazionale pushing for the so-called "strong premiership" (more powers to the executive), meant as a counterweight to the federal reform, to preserve the State unity; UDC asking for an electoral law not damaging small parties (more proportional) and being generally more willing to find a compromise with the moderate wing of the opposition. 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 on October 2005 and finally approved by the Senate on November 16, 2005. The opposition Union coalition collected more than 500,000 signatures in order to call a referendum, which was held on the 25th and 26th of July 2006 and resulted in the rejection of the constitutional reform, refused by 61,3% of the voters.

Legislative actions

Berlusconi's government passed many pieces of legislation, among which:
  • The reform of the labour system, with the so called "legge Biagi", promoting labour flexibility for new workers. It is widespread opinion that this law has been the best success of Berlusconi's government, leading to a record-low unemployment level, while some critics blame the Biagi law as one of the cause of the "uncertain job" problem affecting many young employees.
  • The reform of the school system, called "riforma Moratti" that was quickly put under revision by the centre-left government who followed in charge Berlusconi's government
  • The law on large public works (MOSE project saving city of Venice, High speed railways Turin-Milan-Florence-Rome-Naples and Turin-Verona-Venice, Bridge between Sicily and Italy, underground in Rome, Parma, Naples, Turin, Milan, a strong modernisation of Highways and Water structures in South of Italy, project "Highways on the sea", etc. ) - most projects, however, just remained on paper.
  • Abolition of donation and inheritance taxes (these taxes had previously been abolished for low- and medium- income taxpayers) - now reinstated.
  • The abolition of compulsory military service for all male Italians (the armed forces are now composed only of volunteers since 2004, anticipating the deadline set in a law passed by the previous government).
  • The Urbani decree, named after the Ministro per i beni e le attività culturali Giuliano Urbani, punishing whoever circulates, even via file sharing software, a film or other copyrighted material or part of it, or enjoys it with the same technology, with a 1,500 € fine, the confiscation of the instruments and the material, and the publication of the measure on a national daily paper and a periodical about shows. The decree was later modified by the parliament to include only copyright violation for the purpose of profit, where "profit" also includes the savings due to not buying the software. The Court of Cassation, however, sentenced that "profit" only means an actual "significant monetary profit".
Also, well-known (because regulating aspects of every-day life) legislative acts were:
  • The reform of rules regarding drivers' licenses, led to a 14.5% decrease in car accidents, and an 18.5% decrease of lethal car accidents, according to the Italian police department. Detractors state this law was actually a small modification to a law previously examined by parliament.
  • The increase in taxation on blank data storage devices — this was required by a European Union directive, but the fee in Italy is much higher than in most other EU countries, so that many people now buy them abroad.
  • The banning of smoking in offices, pubs, restaurants and all closed public places, which came into effect in January 2005. This was not the first law prohibiting smoking in some public places, but it was the first to be actually enforced in practice in the overwhelming majority of public places.
  • The law regulating artificial insemination, banning research on embryonic stem cells, pre-implant diagnosis and insemination by donors other than the husband, forcing women to being implanted after the embryo creation even in case of genetic diseases, recognising the embryo as a human rights bearer. The abrogation of the most controversial items has been the object of an unsuccessful popular referendum called in June 2005 by former allies such as the Italian Radicals, together with some (but not all) parties of L'Unione.
  • In a controversial move, the Berlusconi government also passed a new media reform legislation. Among other things, such legislation increased the maximum limit on an individual's share of the media market, allowing Berlusconi to retain control of his three national TV channels (one of which was still using a frequency which by law should have gone to another channel). The legislation also enabled the roll-out of digital television and internet based publishing, and hence his government claimed it resolved the problem of conflict of interest and his media monopoly "by opening up more channels". The law was initially vetoed by the President of the Republic, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, on charges of being anti-constitutional, but it was then forced into law by the Parliament.
A less known law made the so called "Articolo 41 bis" punitive jail regime for mafia leaders a permanent provision. Under previous law, it had to be confirmed every two years.

The new pensions' law, issued on July 2004, raised the minimum age for retirement and added incentives for delayed retirement.

Berlusconi has forced through the Parliament an overall constitutional reform to deepen the current federal form of the State and strengthen the power of the Prime Minister. This reform is disputed, because it has been imposed only by repressing the former separatist party Lega Nord, and without an adequate sharing with the opposition. Many experts of constitutional law think it is fraught with potential disfunctionalities. In January 2006, the reform was approved by the Parliament, but the popular referendum on June 2006 stopped this reform into becoming law.

In October 2005, Berlusconi forced a reform of electoral law. The First Past the Post system was abandoned, returning to the proportional system. The "first past the post" system had been approved by popular vote in a 1993 referendum.

Other pieces of legislation included:
  • the decriminalization of false account statements;
  • the suspension of trials against the highest officers of the state during their terms (this law was later declared unconstitutional);
  • a much shorter statute of limitation for white-collar crimes, coupled with an increase in sanctions for repeated offenders. The opposition argued that this law was designed to save a close friend of Berlusconi, Cesare Previti, from corruption charges; however, after modifications by parliament, Previti was excluded by the benefits of this law.
In the last few days of his term, Berlusconi's parliamentary majority approved many controversial laws, sometimes combining some into unrelated ones. For example, a bill about the Winter Olympics also included controversial provisions tightening penalties for drugs use and peddling.

One of the last bills was a penal code reform forbidding prosecutors to appeal against acquittals (defendants could still appeal, though). This law was not signed by President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi for being clearly anti-constitutional, since the constitution of Italy provides for equal rights for prosecutors and defendants. The law will have to go through both houses of parliament again. The law was since enacted and declared unconstitutional by Italy's Constitutional Court.


Because of his central role in the last decade of Italian politics, his personal fortune, his involvement in the media structure of Italy and his Propaganda Due membership, Silvio Berlusconi has often been at the centre of major controversies.

Arguments for Illegal Jobs

In December 2002, Berlusconi astonished observers when he suggested that laid-off FIAT workers should take illegal non-tax-paying jobs to make ends meet. [6]

"The Ecommunist"

One of Berlusconi's strongest critics in the media outside Italy is the British weekly The Economist (nicknamed by Berlusconi "The Ecommunist"). The war of words between Berlusconi and The Economist has been infamous and widely reported, with Berlusconi taking the publication to court in Rome and The Economist publishing open letters against him [7].

In any event, according to The Economist, Berlusconi, while in his position as prime minister of Italy, had effective control of 90% of all national television broadcasting. [8] This figure included stations he owns directly as well as those he had indirect control of through his position as Prime Minister and his ability to influence the choice of the management bodies of these stations.

Influence on the media

Berlusconi's extensive control of the media has been linked to claims that Italy's media shows limited freedom of expression. The Freedom of the Press 2004 Global Survey, an annual study issued by the American organization Freedom House, downgraded Italy's ranking from 'Free' to 'Partly Free' [9] on the basis of Berlusconi's influence over RAI, a ranking which, in "Western Europe" was shared only with Turkey (2005). Reporters Without Borders states that in 2004, "The conflict of interests involving prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and his vast media empire was still not resolved and continued to threaten news diversity". [10] In April 2004, the International Federation of Journalists joined the criticism, objecting to the passage of a law vetoed by Carlo Azeglio Ciampi in 2003, which critics believe is designed to protect Berlusconi's alleged 90% control of national media. [11]

Berlusconi's influence over RAI became evident when in Sofia, Bulgaria he expressed his views on the journalists Enzo Biagi, Michele Santoro [12], and comedian Daniele Luttazzi. Berlusconi said that they "use television as a criminal mean of communication". Immediately, they lost their jobs.

The TV broadcasting of a satirical program called Raiot was censored in November 2003 after the comedienne Sabina Guzzanti, made outspoken criticism of the Berlusconi media empire [13]. Mediaset, one of Berlusconi's companies, sued the Italian state broadcasting company RAI because of the Guzzanti show asking for 20 million euro for "damages" and from November 2003 her show was cancelled by RAI President, Lucia Annunziata, who sided the left-wing party DS and was given the position to guarantee the rights of both political sides. The details of the event were made into a Michael Moore-style documentary called Viva Zapatero! produced by Guzzanti.

Mediaset, Berlusconi's television group, has stated that it uses the same criteria as the public (state-owned) television RAI in assigning a proper visibility to all the most important political parties and movements (the so-called 'Par Condicio') - which has been since often disproved. However, it is also true that the majority of national press, which includes the three largest Italian printed dailies, La Repubblica, Il Corriere della Sera and La Stampa, tends to be independent of Berlusconi or (in the case of La Repubblica) to be very openly critical of it. Yet the resignation of the director of Corriere della Sera, Ferruccio de Bortoli, was seen as a grasp for more media control from the government. In fact the FNSI, the Trade Union for Italian Journalists, organized a three day long strike to show support to the former director of the newspaper. It is sometimes argued that printed press is not so crucial in Italy in comparison to TV channels, because the distribution of newspapers is lower than most other European countries (100 copies per 1000 individuals compared to 500 per 1000 in Scandinavian countries [14]),

In March 2006, on the Rai Tre, in a television interview with Lucia Annunziata, he left the studio because of a contrast with the journalist on the economic aftermath of his government. [15].

Conflicts of interests

The conflict-of-interest issues can be better understood in the context of the structure of control of the state media. The law delegated the presidents of the Chamber and Deputies to elect the president of RAI and the board of directors. In practice the decision is a political one, which generally results in some opposition representatives becoming directors, but with a majority in the hands of the government candidates; typical numbers used to be two directors and the president for the parliamentary majority, and two directors for the opposition. There is also a parliamentary supervisory commission, where the president is customarily a member of the opposition. During the Baldassarre presidency of RAI, the two opposition directors and the one closer to UDC left for internal disagreements, usually centered on censorship issues. RAI continued to be run by a two-man team (mockingly nicknamed by the opposition i giapponesi, "the Japanese" after the Japanese soldiers that kept fighting in the Pacific ocean after the end of World War II).

The Italian Left coalition has been often criticized for not approving a law to regulate the conflict of interest between media ownership and holding political officies, in despite having ruled over Italy for several years before 2001. In the early 90s, Berlusconi Media group was close to bankruptcy, also because of the competition with the public broadcaster RAI. Berlusconi said to his fellows that the only way out was to make a deal with RAI to end competition (that is to make a cartel), lower costs and quality of programs, and fix audience share to about 45% for both. In 2002, Luciano Violante, a prominent member of the Left, said in a speech in Parliament:

«Honourable [style used by Italian MPs] Anedda, I invite You to ask honourable Berlusconi because he knows for certain that he received the full guarantee, not now, in 1994, when the government changed — that TV stations would not be touched. He knows it and honourable Letta knows it».(Luciano Violante, Chamber of Deputies of Italy, February 28 2002)
Authors of book Inciucio26 claim that sentence to be an evidence that the Left make a deal with Berlusconi in 1994, promising to not respect a sentence of the Constitutional Court of Italy that required to assign to someone else one of the three TV frequencies used by Berlusconi, in order to enforce pluralism and competition; according to the authors this would be an explanation of why the Left, despite of having won the 1996 elections, didn't pass a law to solve the conflicts of interests between media ownership and political career.

Controversy concerning Berlusconi's conflicts of interest are normally centered around the use of his media and marketing power for political gain; however, there is also controversy regarding financial gains. When RAI was being run by a 2-man team appointed by the presidents of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate (both in Berlusconi's coalition), the state broadcaster lost a significant market share to the rival Mediaset group, owned and run by the Berlusconi family, which has led to large personal gain. Berlusconi has many financial interests, and lots of legislation had a direct financial impact on his fortune. His government has passed some laws that have shortened statutory terms for tax fraud. Berlusconi responded to critics by saying that he would not take advantage of these himself, but later he did. Romano Prodi, who defeated Berlusconi in General Elections in 2006, claimed that these were ad personam laws, meant to solve Berlusconi's problems and defend his interests. Critics claim that this situation indicates that laws about conflict of interest and anti-trust are in practice completely ineffective.

Jokes & blunders

Berlusconi is famous in Italy for his occasionally questionable sense of humour. It has been suggested that this is his attempt to show that he has not lost touch with the common Italian, as well as providing a stark contrast to the perceived dullness and political-correctness of many contemporary politicians.

In February 2002, at a European Union summit of foreign ministers, Berlusconi, present since the replacement of his previous foreign minister, Renato Ruggiero, had not yet been appointed, made a vulgar gesture (the "corna") behind the head of the Spanish foreign minister, Josep Piqué, indicating he (Piqué) was a cuckold during an official photoshoot. This is a common joke amongst workingclass Italians, and many felt it was utterly out of place in an international meeting. He later explained that he "was joking", and was trying to create a relaxed climate, that this sort of meeting were meant to "create friendship, cordiality, simpatia and kind relationships" between the participants, and that he wanted to amuse a small group of Boy Scout bystanders. [16]

On July 2 2003, one day after taking over the rotating presidency of the EU Council of Ministers, he was heavily criticised by the German SPD Member of the European Parliament Martin Schulz because of his domestic policy. Berlusconi responded, "Mr Schulz, I know a movie-producer in Italy who is making a movie about Nazi concentration camps. I will suggest you to play the role of a Kapo. You are perfect!". Even though Berlusconi insisted that he was only joking, his comparisons with the Nazis caused a brief diplomatic rift between Italy and Germany. The incident was considered especially inappropriate, since Schulz is a socialist, a group who themselves were persecuted and sent to concentration camps, while Berlusconi himself was leading a government which included the successor of the Italian Fascist Party, and whose deputy once claimed that Benito Mussolini was the greatest Italian statesman of the 20th century.

In mid-May 2005, while opening the European Food Safety Authority in Parma (preferred over a Finnish location, and after Berlusconi had accused Finns of "not knowing what prosciutto is"), Berlusconi claimed that he had to "dust off my English-language playboy skills" with the Finnish president, Tarja Halonen, to convince her to locate the EFSA in Parma. This caused criticism from both Italy and Finland, with the Italian ambassador in Finland being summoned by the Finnish foreign minister. [17]. Berlusconi later 'retracted' the comment by saying that "anyone who had seen a picture of Halonen must have been aware that he had been joking". Before that, speaking to a group of Wall Street traders, he listed a series of reasons to invest in Italy. The first of them was that "we have the most beautiful secretaries in the world". This resulted in uproar in Italy, where, for a day, female deputies in Parliament took part in a cross-party protest.

In March 2006, Berlusconi defended accusations he made that the "Chinese Communists used to eat children", by responding with claims that " the Black Book of Communism and you will discover that in the China of Mao, they did not eat children, but had them boiled to fertilise the fields". He later admitted "It was questionable irony ... because this joke is questionable. But I did not know how to restrain myself". His political opponent, Romano Prodi, told the press, "the damage caused to Italy by an insult to 1.3 billion people is by all means a considerable one," and that Berlusconi's comments were "unthinkable". [18]

On April 4, 2006, less than a week before the oncoming Political Elections in Italy, during a speech given at the National Chamber for Trade Silvio Berlusconi stated that he holds "too high esteem of the Italians' intelligence to think that there are so many coglioni around voting against their interest," coglioni being a vulgar term literally meaning 'bollocks' (morons), commonly used as an insult towards people considered stupid. Later he apologized for the "rude but effective language". At an awards dinner in January, 2007, Berlusconi was quoted as saying : "If I wasn't already married I would marry you right away" and "With you I'd go anywhere" to Mara Carfagna, a representative of Forza Italia and former show-girl. These flirtatious comments prompted his wife to demand an apology in a front-page letter to the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica. In a statement released via his political party he begged for forgiveness, and stating that he would "always protect her dignity". [19]

Legal investigations about Berlusconi

Delaying tactics

Silvio Berlusconi undoubtedly has a rather long record of judicial trials, as several criminal charges have been made against him and his companies over the years (see also the following subsection on Berlusconi's trials), including mafia collusion, false accounting, tax fraud, corruption and bribery of police officers and judges. Some of Berlusconi's close collaborators, friends and firm managers have been found guilty of related crimes, notably his brother, Paolo, who in 2002 agreed to pay 52 million euro as a plea bargain to local authorities for various charges including corruption and undue appropriation found guilty of extortion in association with Cosa Nostra. However, no conviction sentence has ever been issued on Silvio Berlusconi himself for any of the trials which have concluded so far; he has been fully acquitted of the alleged charges, in others he has been acquitted with dubitative formula, or he has been acquitted because the statute of limitations expired before a definitive sentence could be issued. The Italian legal system allows the statute of limitations to continue to run during the course of the criminal trial. Consequently, the delaying tactics adopted by Berlusconi's attorneys (including repeated motions for change of venue) served to nullify a pending charge in one case.

Membership of "Propaganda Due" masonic lodge

In 1981, a scandal arose after the police discovery of Licio Gelli's secret freemasonry lodge Propaganda Due (P2), which aimed to move the Italian political system in a more authoritarian regime to oppose communism. The list of people involved in P2 included members of the secret services and some prominent characters from political arena, business, military and media. Silvio Berlusconi, who was then just starting to gain popularity as the founder and owner of "Canale 5" TV network, was listed as a member of P2.[5] The P2 lodge was dissolved by the Italian parliament in December 1981 and a law was passed declaring similar organizations illegal, but no specific crimes were alleged to individual members of P2..

Berlusconi later (1989) sued three journalists for libel for writing articles hinting at his involvement in financial crimes. In the court, he declared that he had joined the P2 lodge "only for a very short time before the scandal broke" and "he had not even paid the entry fee". Such statements, however, conflicted with the findings of the parliamentary commission appointed to investigate the lodge's activity, with material evidence, and even with previous testimony of Berlusconi, all of which showing that he had actually been a member of P2 since 1978 and had indeed paid a 100,000 Italian liras entry fee. Because of this a court of appeal condemned him for perjury in 1990, but crime was extinguished by the previous 1989 amnesty so he was never actually jailed.

Actually, the main fact related to Berlusconi’s P2 membership has been not pointed out by the just mentioned trial, since Berlusconi was not a normal P2 member.

In fact, according to an interview released to Italian newspaper by the P2 head, Licio Gelli, Berlusconi has during his last government completely realized the P2 plan, becoming somehow the P2 plan maker.

In particular, it is worth reminding that among the P2 program points there were: the control of the media and Italian justice and the impairment of the Italian education system. The first point is somehow known even outside of Italy, since Berlusconi, during his government, had full control on 5 out of 6 major national channels. Berlusconi used his televisions in a way similar to the Roman emperors: he basically gave Italians “panem et circenses”, satisfying the Italian population with food and entertainment.

This wouldn't have been possible without the realization of two other key points of the Gelli program: the impairment of the justice system, which was effectively advanced during his cabinet. The third point, the degradation of the cultural level of the Italian population finalized the P2 programme and is one of the main heritage of the Berlusconi era. The main aspect can be expressed by an example: he came out to convince most Italians that it is easier to make money (and become famous) joining things like TV games, participating in shows like the Big Brother, or even becoming a showgirl or football player, rather than studying at the University.

Entrepreneurial career, Bettino Craxi

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. These accusations are regarded by Berlusconi and his supporters as empty slander, trying to undermine Berlusconi's reputation of a self-made man. Frequently cited by opponents are also events dating to the 1980s, including supposed "favor exchanges" between Berlusconi and the former prime minister Bettino Craxi, indicted in 1990-91 for various corruption charges. Berlusconi acknowledges a personal friendship to Craxi.

On some occasions, which raised a strong upheaval in the Italian political opposition, laws passed by the Berlusconi administration have effectively delayed ongoing trials on him, allowing the statute of limitations to expire, or stopped them entirely. Relevant examples are the law reducing punishment for all cases of false accounting; the new law on international rogatories, which made his Swiss bank records unusable in court against him 6; 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 7,8; and most importantly the lodo Maccanico law, passed in June 2003, which granted the highest five state officers, including the Prime Minister, immunity from prosecution while in office2. This law froze Berlusconi's position in the SME-Ariosto trial in which he was accused of having corrupted judges in previous legal rulings regarding his participation in the public auction of the state-owned food company SME in the 1980s. However, the trial was not frozen for other defendants, and the former lawyer of Berlusconi's main firm (Fininvest) and former Italian defence minister, Cesare Previti, was sentenced to 5 years although the crime was reduced from corruption of judges to simple corruption 9,10. In January 2004 the Lodo Maccanico was nullified by the Constitutional court as it was ruled to be in conflict with the Italian constitution. Subsequently Berlusconi has declared his intent to re-introduce the law using the correct procedure for constitutional modification. Because of these legislative acts, political opponents accuse Berlusconi of passing ad personam laws, to protect himself from legal charges; 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 subject to a judiciary persecution, a political witch hunt orchestrated by politicized (left-wing) judges 11.

For such reasons, Berlusconi and his government have an ongoing quarrel with the Italian judiciary, which reached its peak in 2003 when Berlusconi commented to a foreign journalist that judges are "mentally disturbed" and "anthropologically different from the rest of the human race", remarks that he later claimed he meant to be directed to specific judges only, and of a humorous nature12. More seriously, the Berlusconi administration has long been planning a judiciary reform intended to limit the arbitrariness allowed to the judges in their decisions (for example by introducing civil liability on the consequences of their sentences), but which, according to its critics, will instead limit the magistrature's independence, by de facto subjecting the judiciary to the executive's control. This reform has met almost unanimous dissent from the Italian judges 13,14 and, after three years of debate and struggle, was passed by the Italian parliament in December 2004, but was immediately vetoed by the Italian President, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi 15, who said some of the passed laws were "clearly unconstitutional". Presently (February 2005) the law is in process of being re-examined by the parliament, taking into account the President's objections on its constitutionality.

Berlusconi has also been indicted in Spain for charges of tax fraud and violation of anti-trust laws regarding the private TV network Telecinco, but his status as a member of the European Parliament allowed him to gain immunity from prosecution 16.

Alleged links to the Mafia

Possible connections of Berlusconi to the Sicilian Mafia are also mentioned. The accusations arise mostly from the hiring of the Vittorio Mangano, charged for Mafia association, as a gardner and stable man at Berlusconi's Villa San Martino in Arcore, a small town near Milan. It was Berlusconi's long time friend and righthand man Marcello Dell'Utri who introduced Mangano in 1973. Mangano's real job is alleged to have been to deter kidnappers from targeting the tycoon's children.[6][7] Berlusconi denies any ties to the Mafia.

Heated debate on this issue emerged again in 2004 when Dell'Utri, the manager of Berlusconi's publishing company Publitalia 80 and a Forza Italia senator was sentenced to 9 years by the Palermo court on charge of "external association to the Mafia",[7][8] a sentence on which Berlusconi refused to comment.

In 1996, the Mafia pentito (turncoat) Salvatore Cancemi declared that Berlusconi and Dell'Utri were in direct contact with Salvatore Riina, head of the Sicilian Mafia in the 80's and 90's. Cancemi disclosed that Fininvest, through Marcello Dell'Utri and mafioso Vittorio Mangano, had paid Cosa Nostra 200 million lire (100 000 euro) annually. The alleged contacts, according to Cancemi, were to lead to legislation favourable to Cosa Nostra, in particular the harsh 41-bis prison regime. The underlying premise was that Cosa Nostra would support Berlusconi's Forza Italia party in return for political favours.[9] After a two-year investigation, magistrates closed the inquiry without charges. They did not find evidence to corroborate Cancemi’s allegations. Similarly, a two-year investigation, also launched on evidence from Cancemi, into Berlusconi’s alleged association with the Mafia was closed in 1996.[6]

According to yet another mafia turncoat, Antonino Giuffrè – arrested on April 16, 2002 – the Mafia turned to Berlusconi's Forza Italia party to look after the Mafia's interests, after the decline in the early 1990s of the ruling Christian Democrat party (DC - Democrazia Cristiana) — whose leaders in Sicily looked after the Mafia's interests in Rome. The Mafia’s fall out with the Christian Democrats became clear when the DC strong man in Sicily, 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. To be clear, that party was Forza Italia."[10] If true, the allegations might explain the Berlusconi coalition's clean sweep of Sicily's 61 Parliament seats in the 2001 elections.[11]

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.[12] Mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano told Giuffrè that they "were in good hands" with Dell'Utri, who was a "serious and trustworthy person".[11] Provenzano said that the Mafia's judicial problems would be resolved within 10 years after 1992, thanks to the undertakings given by Forza Italia.[10]

Giuffrè 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.[11][13][12] Berlusconi's lawyer dismissed Giuffrè's testimony as "false" and an attempt to discredit the Prime Minister and his party.[11]

Giuffrè said that other Mafia representatives who were in contact with Berlusconi included the Palermo Mafia bosses Filippo Graviano and Giuseppe Graviano.[13][14] The Graviano brothers allegedly treated directly with Berlusconi through the business-man Gianni Ienna, somewhere between September/October 1993. The alleged pact with the Mafia fell apart in 2002. Cosa Nostra had achieved nothing. There were no revisions of Mafia trials, no changes in the law of asset seizures and no changes in the harsh prison laws (41 bis).[15]

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.[13]

"Jowellgate" in the UK

Berlusconi describes the work of prosecutors pursuing him and his associates as a politically-motivated vendetta and attributes their current attentions to the imminent Italian elections. Over the years, there have been many such accusations but none seem to have made a lasting mark on him. Consequently, the link between him and the difficulties of UK Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, has attracted less media attention in Italy than in the UK, where the media has sensed a whiff of something scandalous (or at least hypocritical and embarrassing) for the government. David Mills, lawyer husband of the British cabinet minister in the Blair government, had acted for Berlusconi in the early 1990s and has been accused by Italian prosecutors of money laundering and of accepting a gift from Berlusconi in return for friendly evidence given as a prosecution witness against Berlusconi. However, Mills has asserted that the money in question did not come from Berlusconi but from another client. No formal indictment has yet been issued but on March 10, 2006 it was reported that prosecuting magistrates in Italy had submitted evidence to a judge, seeking an indictment for bribery against Berlusconi and Mills 27: all parties vehemently deny wrong-doing and Berlusconi commented that the timing showed that the prosecution is political. Berlusconi also denies having met Mills. The British media have been having an investigative field-day but have not so-far unearthed anything that warrants Ms. Jowell's resignation nor that proves guilt of Mills, Berlusconi or their intermediaries. Mills separated from his wife in the face of a drip-feeding of accusations aired in the British press.



Berlusconi is admired by some Italians for his success as a businessman; his supporters praise what they consider his innovative ideas and entrepreneurial spirit. His detractors, however, point out that he tends to centralize power upon his person, and this is reflected in the organization of the Forza Italia party. Furthermore, critics often attribute a substantial part of his financial successes to his closeness to politicians that have been later exposed as corrupt (as Bettino Craxi) or even contiguous to the Mafia. Another criticism voiced is that he over-reacts to attacks from political opponents and to sharp questions from journalists. Just about everyone agrees that he cares a great deal about his appearance; in January, 2004, after intense speculation in the media, he admitted he had a facelift [20] and photos of him wearring a bandana while hosting a holidaying Tony Blair aroused interest in hair transplants which he has been known to recommend for any balding man who can afford it and likes to look his best. The publicity did not seem to bother him.

Berlusconi is regularly accused in Italy of having a very high opinion of himself, at times comparing himself to Napoleon [21], Churchill [22] and Jesus Christ [23] — though supporters contend that these are plainly comments intended to be taken in jest. Berlusconi is media-savvy,[16] with a good feel for what goes down well in Italy. He is known to tell jokes to create a relaxed atmosphere, and trying to make sure everybody enjoys himself in his presence. He is especially careful about talking in intelligible Italian, though with a light Milanese accent, while some politicians prior to 1992 talked an incomprehensible jargon.

Berlusconi has a large fan base in the United States, especially among heavy Italian-American population areas such as Staten Island and Brooklyn. Italian Americans regard him as the man behind the man behind the man.



1. ^


Le principali società industriali e di servizi italiane
2. ^ Berlusconi relishes power of TV, BBC News, February 23, 2006
3. ^ Silvio Berlusconi, self-styled man of the people, CNN In Depth Special Italian Elections 2001.
4. ^


Gomez, Peter and Marco Travaglio (2005). Inciucio, BUR Biblioteca Universale Rizzoli, ISBN 88-17-01020-0
5. ^ The War They Wanted, The Lies They Needed Vanity Fair, July 2006
6. ^ An Italian Story, The Economist, April 26, 2001
7. ^ Berlusconi accused of Mafia links, BBC news, 8 January, 2003
8. ^


Accusa e difesa del senatore "M"; Una vicenda lunga dieci anni, La Repubblica, December 11, 2004
9. ^ Berlusconi friend on trial for 'aiding Mafia', The Guardian, May 10, 2001
10. ^ Berlusconi aide 'struck deal with mafia', The Guardian, January 8, 2003
11. ^ Who Are You Going To Believe?, Time Magazine, January 12, 2003
12. ^ Mafia supergrass fingers Berlusconi by Philip Willan, The Observer, January 12, 2003
13. ^ Berlusconi implicated in deal with godfathers, The Guardian, December 5, 2002
14. ^


Giuffré: il boss Graviano era il tramite con Berlusconi, La Repubblica, December 3, 2002
15. ^


Giuffrè, gli obiettivi della confessione, La Repubblica, December 4, 2002
16. ^ Berlusconi in re-election battle, BBC News, April 9, 2006
  1. Italy immunity law provokes fury, BBC news, 25 June 2003, Retrieved 2004/12/24
  2. Berlusconi in EU 'Nazi' slur, BBC news, 2 July 2003, Retrieved 2004/12/24
  3. Berlusconi accused of Mafia links, BBC news, 8 January 2003, Retrieved 2005/1/22
  4. Italy's left attacks Berlusconi, BBC news, 11 December 2004, Retrieved 2005/1/22
  5. Berlusconi plans to get off the hook, The Observer, 7 October 2001, Retrieved 2005/2/1
  6. Italian Senate passes disputed bill, BBC News, 2 August 2002, Retrieved 2005/2/1
  7. Berlusconi scores double victory, BBC News, 5 November 2002, Retrieved 2005/2/1
  8. Berlusconi ally jailed for bribery, BBC News, 29 April 2003, Retrieved 2005/2/1
  9. Berlusconi ally partially cleared, BBC News, 22 November 2003, Retrieved 2005/2/1
  10. Berlusconi warns 'subversive' judges, BBC News, 8 August 2003, Retrieved 2005/2/1
  11. Berlusconi stuns Italian judges, BBC News, 5 September 2003, Retrieved 2005/2/1
  12. Italian judges fight reform, BBC News, 20 June 2002, Retrieved 2005/2/1
  13. Italian magistrates go on strike, BBC News, 25 May 2004, Retrieved 2005/2/1
  14. Italian president blocks reforms, BBC News, 16 December 2004, Retrieved 2005/2/1
  15. Q&A: Berlusconi's battle with the courts, BBC News, 24 January 2002, Retrieved 2005/2/1
  16. Italian premier's brother wants plea bargain in corruption case, Financial Times, 22 April 2002, Retrieved 2005/2/1, reported on the la Margherita (the Daisy) opposition party website.
  17. New storm over Berlusconi 'remarks', BBC News, 11 September 2003, Retrieved 2005/2/2
  18. Jewish communities split over Berlusconi, BBC News, 26 September 2003, Retrieved 2005/2/2
  19. Berlusconi's life: cronology, paper spread July 2 2003 among the European parliamentarians by member Gianni Vattimo, written by journalists Marco Travaglio and Peter Gomez.
  20. Berlusconi and his mysteries, paper spread July 2 2003 among the European parliamentarians by member Gianni Vattimo, written by journalists Marco Travaglio and Peter Gomez.
  21. Banca Rasini and money laundering.
  22. * New York Times journalist Nick Tosches interviewes with Michele Sindona, while imprisoned in the United States:
  23. ** (English) Power On Earth, 1986, Arbor House Pub Co, USA, ISBN 0-87795-796-7
  24. ** (Italian) Il mistero Sindona. le memorie e le rivelazioni di Michele Sindona (Published in Milano by editor SugarCo in 1986. 316 pages) Dewey class: 332.1
  25. ** (German) Geschäfte mit dem Vatikan. Die Affäre Sindona. München 1987. ISBN 3-426-03970-2
  26. * L'odore dei soldi. Origini e misteri delle fortune di Silvio Berlusconi (Elio Veltri and Marco Travaglio, 2001, Editori Riuniti, ISBN 88-359-5007-4 ).
  27. *, Journalists Marco Travaglio (interviewed by Daniele Luttazzi in his show Satyricon)
  28. (Italian) Berlusconi bankruptcy risks and legal investigation before entering politics: Mani pulite. La vera storia. Da Mario Chiesa a Silvio Berlusconi (Gianni Barbacetto, Peter Gomez and Marco Travaglio, 2002, Editori Riuniti, ISBN 88-359-5241-7 ), p. 138-139.
  29. (Italian) L'amico degli amici. (Marco Travaglio and Peter Gomez, 2005, BUR Biblioteca Universale Rizzoli, ISBN 88-17-00707-2 ).
  30. * References about Mangano and Berlusconi: p. XIII-XIX, 35-124, 209-225, 300-311, 699-703
  31. (Italian) Article Forza Bahamas, in the column Bananas by Marco Travaglio (April 17 2005, L'Unità). This article has been also published in book Berluscomiche (Marco Travaglio, 2005, Garzanti Libri, ISBN 88-11-59765-X ), pages 431-433. It can be read at these links:
  32. (Italian) Inciucio. (Peter Gomez and Marco Travaglio, 2005, BUR Biblioteca Universale Rizzoli, ISBN 88-17-01020-0 ).
  33. Italy bid for PM corruption trial, BBC News, 10 March 2006
  34. Berlusconi hands in resignation, BBC News, 2 May 2006



See also

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
Prime Minister of Italy
1994 – 1995
Succeeded by
Lamberto Dini
Preceded by
Giuliano Amato
Prime Minister of Italy
Succeeded by
Romano Prodi
Preceded by
Renato Ruggiero
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Franco Frattini
Preceded by
Francesco Storace
Minister of Health
Succeeded by
Livia Turco
Assembly seats
Preceded by
Title jointly held
Member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies
1994 - present
Party political offices
Preceded by
New Party
President of Forza Italia
1994 - present
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Morihiro Hosokawa
Chair of the G8
Succeeded by
Jean Chrétien
Preceded by
Yoshiro Mori
Chair of the G8
Succeeded by
Jean Chrétien

NAMEBerlusconi, Silvio
SHORT DESCRIPTIONItalian politician, entrepreneur, and media proprietor
DATE OF BIRTHSeptember 29, 1936
Carlo Azeglio Ciampi (born 9 December 1920 in Livorno) is an Italian politician and banker who has been both Prime Minister of Italy and President of the Italian Republic. He resigned as President before the swearing-in ceremony of his successor Giorgio Napolitano.
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Giulio Tremonti (born August 18, 1947) is an Italian politician and economist, and was the former Italian minister of Economy and Finance and deputy-prime minister in the governments of Silvio Berlusconi. He is actually Vice-President of Forza Italia.
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Gianfranco Fini (born January 3, 1952) is an Italian politician.

Fini was born in Bologna, Emilia-Romagna. He is separated from his wife Daniela di Sotto and has one daughter, holds a degree in psychology and is a journalist by trade (since 1979).
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Marco Follini (born on 26 September 1954) is an Italian centre-wing politician.

Follini was born in Rome. He was National Secretary of the Democrats' Centre Union party until October 15 2005.
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120 - 140 million (est.)
Regions with significant populations  Italy      56 million (95% population of Italy)

 Brazil [1]
 United States [2]
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See also Politics of Italy
Political parties in Italy
Elections in Italy

Forza Italia (Forward Italy, FI) [1] is an Italian political party.
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Veronica Lario (born on 19 July 1956 as Miriam Raffaella Bartolini) is an Italian actress, currently the wife of Italian ex-prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.


Born in Bologna, Lario was an actress in low budget films.
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Marina Berlusconi (Maria Elvira Berlusconi, born August 10, 1966 in Milan) is the daughter of Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's billionaire former prime minister.

Marina Berlusconi holds several posts in her father's media empire.
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Country Italy
Region Lombardy
Province Province of Milan (MI)
Mayor Marco Rocchini

Area km
 - Total (as of Dec.
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Il Canto degli Italiani
(also known as Fratelli d'Italia)

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University of Milan (Italian: Università degli Studi di Milano, UNIMI) is one the largest universities in Italy, with about 62,801 students, a teaching and research staff of 2,455 and a non-teaching staff of 2,200.
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A politician is an individual who is a formally recognized and active member of a government, or a person who influences the way a society is governed through an understanding of political power and group dynamics.
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A businessman is a term for a person working for a profit-oriented commercial or industrial enterprise, or more specifically, someone who is involved in the management (at any level) of a company.
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Jesus Christ
Church Theology
New Covenant Supersessionism
Apostles Kingdom Gospel
History of Christianity Timeline
Old Testament New Testament
Books Canon Apocrypha
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September 29 is the 1st day of the year (2nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 0 days remaining.


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19th century - 20th century - 21st century
1900s  1910s  1920s  - 1930s -  1940s  1950s  1960s
1933 1934 1935 - 1936 - 1937 1938 1939

Year 1936 (MCMXXXVI
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This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of

  • Constitution
  • Constitutional Court
  • President
  • Giorgio Napolitano

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An entrepreneur (a loanword from French introduced and first defined by the Irish economist Richard Cantillon) is a person who operates a new enterprise or venture and assumes some accountability for the inherent risks.
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A media proprietor is a person who controls, either through personal ownership or a dominant position in a public company, a significant part of the mass media. Media proprietors are commonly called "media moguls", "tycoons", "barons", or "bosses".
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See also Politics of Italy
Political parties in Italy
Elections in Italy

Forza Italia (Forward Italy, FI) [1] is an Italian political party.
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The centre-right is a political term commonly used to describe or denote individuals, political parties or organisations (such as think tanks) whose views stretch from the centre to the right on the left-right spectrum, excluding far right stances.
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A shareholder or stockholder is an individual or company (including a corporation) that legally owns one or more shares of stock in a joint stock company. A company's shareholders collectively own that company. Thus, such companies strive to enhance shareholder value.
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Fininvest, Spa.

Founded Finanziaria d'Investimenti, Srl (1978)
Headquarters Milan, Italy

Key people Marina Berlusconi, Chairman
Pasquale Cannatelli, CEO

Industry Financial holding
Revenue €5,496 Billion (2005)
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AC Milan

Full name Associazione Calcio Milan SpA
Nickname(s) Rossoneri (Red-Blacks)
il Diavolo (the Devil)

Founded December 16, 1899
Ground San Siro, Milan
Capacity 85,700
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Association football, commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played between two teams of 11 players. It is the most popular sport in the world.
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Forbes is an American publishing and media company. Its flagship publication, Forbes magazine, is published bi-weekly. Its primary competitors in the national business magazine category are Fortune, which is also published bi-weekly, and BusinessWeek.
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United States dollar
dólar estadounidense (Spanish)
dólar amerikanu (Tetum)
dólar americano

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This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of

  • Constitution
  • Constitutional Court
  • President
  • Giorgio Napolitano

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