Silvio Berlusconi, four times Italian Prime Minister, entrepreneur and media tycoon dies at age 86

Elizabeth Smith

Silvio Berlusconi died at the San Raffaele hospital in Milan. The former Prime Minister, leader of Forza Italia and founder of Mediaset was 86 years old.

Berlusconi had returned to San Raffaele last Friday, after a long hospital stay – of 45 days – which ended a few weeks ago, due to pneumonia and a form of leukaemia (chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia).

The funeral will be held at Milan Cathedral, Wednesday 14 June at 3pm, in the presence of the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella and will be celebrated by the Archbishop of Milan Monsignor Delpini.

Berlusconi has marked the history of Italy

Silvio Berlusconi, born on 29 September 1936 in Milan, was a figure who defined the Italian political, economic and media scene for decades.

As an entrepreneur, media owner, and also as a politician, Berlusconi built an empire and left an indelible mark on the history of Italy.

The entrepreneur

Before entering politics, Berlusconi had already made his fortune as an entrepreneur and media tycoon. After a series of various jobs, in 1961 he founded his first successful venture, Edilnord, a construction company. Berlusconi, with his natural business acumen, grew the company, leading to the construction of Milano 2. This is a huge residential complex on the outskirts of Milan.

In parallel, Berlusconi realised the importance of television and the media as instruments of influence and power. In 1974 he founded his first television network, Telemilano, which was to become the nucleus of his media empire, Mediaset.

His company, with its three main networks, Canale 5, Italia 1 and Rete 4, revolutionised Italian television. Thus breaking the monopoly of state television, Rai.

The historic president of AC Milan, which he took to the top of the world after saving it from bankruptcy, Berlusconi two years ago became number one of Monza, which went back to Serie A.

With him at the helm, Milan won 8 league titles, one Coppa Italia, 7 Italian Super Cups, 5 Champions Leagues, 2 Intercontinental Cups, 5 UEFA Super Cups and a Club World Cup. For a total of 29 official trophies in 31 years.

The entry into politics

Berlusconi made his debut in politics in 1994, founding the centre-right party Forza Italia. His entry into politics was seen by many political observers as ‘a move to protect his business interests’.

In a politically fragmented country, Berlusconi managed to unite several centre-right forces under the Forza Italia banner. Thus forming a winning coalition in the 1994 general election.

His term as Prime Minister of Italy, however, was marked by continuous controversies and scandals. Accused repeatedly of corruption and conflicts of interest due to his multiple roles as a businessman and politician, Berlusconi faced numerous trials during and after his terms as Prime Minister.

Despite constant controversy, Berlusconi served a total of four terms as Prime Minister. This is more than any other Italian leader in the post-war period (3339 days).

His economic and social policies, such as labour market and education reforms, have received both criticism and praise, depending on political position.

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