Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi dies at 86

By Alma Fabiani

Updated Jun 13, 2023 at 02:20 PM

Reading time: 1 minute

The former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has died aged 86. The flamboyant billionaire media tycoon, who led three Italian governments between 1994 and 2011 and whose Forza Italia party is a junior partner in the current ruling coalition, had been suffering from leukaemia for some time.

He first spent six weeks at Milan’s San Raffaele’s hospital this spring, undergoing treatment for a lung infection linked to a chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia, before being readmitted.

Berlusconi was one of Italy’s most controversial politicians, making a comeback in 2017 despite a career tainted by sex scandals, countless allegations of corruption and a tax fraud conviction.

Forza Italia was founded in 1993. Only a year later, Berlusconi was the first prime minister to be elected without previously having held a government office and his second term in office, between 2001 and 2006, is the longest served by any Italian leader since World War II. He returned to power in 2008 but was forced to resign in 2011 amid an acute debt crisis.

In late 2012, Berlusconi was convicted of tax fraud, for which he served his year-long sentence doing part-time community service at a residential home in Milan. His ban on running for office was lifted in time for the general elections in 2018, when Forza Italia ran in coalition with the League and Brothers of Italy but fell short of the 40 per cent required to govern.

In 2019, Berlusconi won a seat in the European parliament and in general elections in October 2022, his party returned to power in a coalition led by Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy. Berlusconi was also elected as a senator.

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