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BERLUSCONI IS 75. What lies ahead for him?

BERLUSCONI IS 75. What lies ahead for him?

Numerous scandals have seemingly done its dirty job. Previously Berlusconi’s rating had never dropped below 40%, but now it slid to a twice lower mark. Economic crisis struck Italy hard, and Silvio barely noticed that through the disco-lights of his bunga-bunga parties. Political career of this — frankly speaking, quite elderly — man is on the sunset and we can’t rule out the possibility of crowning it with a lawsuit.

On the 29th of September one of the most flamboyant politicians of our time — Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi — celebrated his 75th anniversary. His career was vivid, he tried himself in variety of fields — construction and media business, football, politics — and always succeeded. As for his famous liaisons, there hardly is a contemporary politician out there, who may match him on that walk of life.

Man, who headed Italian government thrice, was born on the 29th of September, 1936 in a family of Milanese bank clerk. He studied well in school and in the University of Milan, which he graduated from with an Applied Jurisprudence diploma. That was also the time, when don Silvio earned his first liras. Being a student, he did a part-time job in the band, playing in clubs and steamers. Berlusconi sang and played the contrabass. In 2003 he wrote a love song of his own and on his 70th anniversary he even released an album.

However, music remained merely an entertainment to him. He started to make his fortune in the middle of 60s. Almost every man, who met him, denoted an extraordinary charm of don Silvio — he might have interested anyone with his offers. There was hardly another man, who could’ve got a major bank loan for building an elite district in the surroundings of the constantly noisy airport of Milan. Yet, he got the money, launched an ad campaign and the project was repaid. So by the age of 40 Berlusconi was a billionaire — only in liras at the moment (one dollar cost approximately one thousand liras).

Until the present moment the most part of don Silvio’s initial capital accumulation is cloaked in a thick fog. Various former business-partners of his often tried to sue him, yet all of them failed to prove the illegitimate nature of Berlusconi’s enrichment. However, many people of the economic and financial establishment of Italy refused to shake hands with the future politician — for example, the Agnelli family, which managed FIAT and owned the famous Juventus football club from Turin for a long time.

In the end of 70s Berlusconi smelled the spirit of time and re-qualified its business. In the age of rapid development of cable television don Silvio instantly understood that this field promises fabulous profits. He founded the Fininvest Holding Company, which has owned the first commercial television network of Italy (Canale 5) since 1980. During the 80s his media-empire was reinforces by such channels as Italia 1, Retequatro and Pubitalia’80, editorial houses Il Giornale and Mondadori. With the purchase of French La Chinq, Western German Telefunt and Spanish Telechinco, Berlusconi turned into the largest European TV tycoon.

Football as a springboard to politics

Having owned the media, Berlusconi gained the national popularity. Yet, in order to be truly loved that wasn’t enough. Millions have been watching soap operas and talk-shows, but still it was football that remained the second religion of Italy and don Silvio bought AC Milan, which has been dragging a miserable existence back in the 80s due to the numerous financial scandals. Few successful acquisitions, sound management and in a couple of years that was a whole new team.

In the end of 80s — beginning of 90s Milan dominated the European and global club arena. Several Italian championship titles, three European Championship Cups, two Intercontinental cups. Despite his repeated coming into power, Berlusconi still remains the club owner and two victories in the Champions League in 2003 and 2007 are his merits too.

Investment into Milan had the political aim too. The matter is that the traditional fan base of the team was the left-wingers. Don Silvio, who always stood up for low taxes, freedom of entrepreneurship and minimum social payments was ideological alien to then. But, God, what can football do to Italian. "Milan has won and so will you" was Berlusconi’s motto, when went into politics. Having come into it, he made a commotion and became a part of Italian (and not just Italian) history.

The unique political achievement

In the 90s utmost favorable conditions for Berlusconi and the right-centrist Il Polo della liberta (People of Freedom) bloc of his emerged. Law-enforcement "clean hands" operation resulted in purges among the ranks of many-year-old flagships of Italian politics — Christian-Democratic and Socialist parties. In particular, the former Prime Ministers Giulio Andreotti and Bettino Craxi have been criminally prosecuted. So, don Silvio breathed new life into the local politics.

For the first time Berlusconi became Prime Minister in 1994, albeit the cabinet hasn’t even functioned for merely a year. Billionaire-politician was severely criticized for "unscrupulousness in his political ties". So, one of his coalition allies was the National Alliance with its barely disguised sympathies for fascism and Benito Mussolini. Or take the "Northern League" that stand for an extensive autonomy, if not an outright separation, of a wealthy Italian north from the poor south. Berlusconi lost the elections in 1996 yet his return wasn’t too far away.

For the second time he headed the in 2001. And that’s when he made a unique achievement. The matter is that the cabinet leapfrog makes up a distinctive Italian feature. In the 20th century not a single Prime Minister (after Mussolini) managed to work for the entire Constitutional five-year term (even before Duce cabinets were shifting like la-di-da). Don Silvio, though, faced the parliament elections of 2006 in the Prime Minister’s seat and could have felt himself a winner, even in spite of losing them.

In 2008 Berlusconi returned. Nation thought that only he was capable of dealing with Napoli trash. Footage of the third largest Italian city, suffering from sewage, has spread all over the world. Since then don Silvio has gone through an actual collapse of the ruling coalition, cold breath of the global crisis, has been blown with a statue by a mentally ill person and failed to pass the idea of criminal persecution immunity for the top officials. Several times the government attempted to resign him but he’s still standing for now. In a year and a half he may become the first Prime Minister in Italian history, who managed to stay in power until the end of his term twice.

Defying political correctness and stereotypes

Berlusconi has also left a vivid trace at the international arena, being unafraid to counter the European stereotypes. While the European community has been demonizing Vladimir Putin, don Silvio was not ashamed of his friendship with the Russian leader and even invited him to his villa. It was no other man but Silvio Berlusconi, who stood up with an idea of cancelling the visa regime between Russia and the EU. His contribution made the South Stream gas pipeline project possible. During all the years of his premiership Italian Prime Minister has never sad an ill word about our country.

He, however, made aplenty dubious political decisions too. Take the Italian participation in the U. S. operation in Iraq for one, or supporting the Kosovo independence, or, finally, his participation in overthrowing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Italy joined the NATO operation in spite of the fact that in the end of summer, 2010 Berlusconi greeted Gaddafi in Rome, while exactly Italy was the main customer for the Libyan energy carriers.

We may also recollect Berlusconi’s joke about the "even tanned man" in the head of the USA. Today it’s uncommon to discuss the color of someone’s skin, even if someone’s name is Barack Obama. Yet, the rules of political correctness seemingly mean nothing to don Silvio. Remember the case, when, three years ago, he frightened Angela Merkel, having hidden behind the flag and then making his dramatic appearance saying "Here I am". Recently, though, certain phone conversation was published, during which he made some rude remarks regarding certain intimate body parts of German chancellor. In the current ticklish state of Italian economy, German help may not come after such words.

Man who has outdone Don Juan

If politicians ever compete in the number of political scandals, Berlusconi will surely leave the rest far behind. Headlines of all the European newspapers have been dedicated to his amours for years. There’s hardly a man, capable of listing all the love affairs and liaisons of don Silvio. He will tell everything about it in his memoirs, if he feels like it.

Berlusconi has been officially married twice. His first spouse since 1965 to 1986 was Carla Elvira Dall’Oglio, who gave birth to his daughter Maria Elvira and son Pier Silvio. Today the latter one holds a prominent position in the Fininvest holding company. His marriage to the actress Veronica Lario lasted a bit more — he has daughters Barbara and Eleonora and son Luigi from her. In 2009–2010 almost an entire Italy followed the epic saga of "Prime Minister’s divorce". Lario has repeatedly promised to left her fornicating husband ruined but in the end she was satisfied with a villa near Milan and monthly alimony of €300 thousand.

In 2003 love incumbent Prime Minister’s love affair became a talker, when he promoted husband of his paramour as weird sort of praying forgiveness for sins. In 2007 Oggi magazine printed his photo with five slender and half-naked girls entitled "Berlusconi’s harem". A year later he even apologized for his passion for the fair sex before his wife through the national newspaper, yet he failed to "give up". Reports about his "bunga bunga" parties and employment of his mistresses were frequent guests on the pages of Italian press media.
"He spends his time on cheeks" — the newspapers reported, publishing the prints his cell phone conversations. They’ve relished on savory pictures of a young Minister of Education Mariastella Gelmini and Minister of Equal Opportunity Mara Carfagna. European Parliament MPs from Berlusconi’s bloc includes some pretty girls too.

Does "bunga bunga" path ends up in jail?

Don Silvio, however, seemingly had gone too far with his love affairs. Law-enforcement officials got a steady hold of him. Today the politician has talk himself out of liaison with Rubi — Moroccan belly-dancer Karima El-Mahroug, who had prostituted for Berlusconi, being under the age of 18. Brazilian Iris Bernardi and Napoli Naomi Letizia have put forth the same claims — extramarital affair with the latter girl has even made politician’s wife divorce him. Sex with the under-aged is strictly banned in Italy and Berlusconi is facing up to 15 years behind the bars on "Rubi’s charges".

Mind that apart from the amorous lawsuits, don Silvio may also contend for a Guinness record in the number of criminal lawsuits, he’s entangled with. Surprisingly enough, he often managed to come through unscathed, although he was repeatedly accused of ties with Mafia, bribery and tax evasion. Even at this very moment the charges of a former Mafioso Gaspare Spatuzza, who openly accused the politician of connections with the criminal word, are investigated. The lawsuit of the BNL insurance group acquisition in 2005, involving Berlusconi’s brother Paolo, is going under way too.

Numerous scandals have seemingly done its dirty job. Previously Berlusconi’s rating had never dropped below 40%, but now it slid to a twice lower mark. Economic crisis struck Italy hard, and Silvio barely noticed that through the disco-lights of his bunga-bunga parties. Political career of this — frankly speaking, quite elderly — man is on the sunset and we can’t rule out the possibility of crowning it with a lawsuit.

By Vadim Truhachev

 

 

 

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