Silvio Berlusconi was Italy’s longest-serving postwar Prime Minister, holding the position for nine years in total, throughout three terms. He is an entrepreneur, media mogul, and convicted tax evader in addition to being a politician. Berlusconi, one of Europe’s most divisive figures, rose through the ranks to become one of the country’s most eminent, important, and high-ranking citizens. He didn’t allow his middle-class upbringing stop him from achieving his goal. He went on to become an Italian industrialist and media billionaire, as well as a renowned politician, thanks to his unwavering perseverance and strong will. He began his media career by establishing Telemilano, a modest cable television firm. Soon after, he established Fininvest, the country’s first media conglomerate, and built Italy’s first and only commercial television empire. His plunge into politics paid off well, as his insight and excellent demeanor earned him the position of Prime Minister of Italy three times, from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006, and 2008 to 2011. After Benito Mussolini and Giovanni Giolitti, he is the third longest-serving Prime Minister since Italy’s unification. Browse the following lines to learn more about this Italian media magnate and political plutocrat.
Childhood and Adolescence
Silvio Berlusconi was the first of the couple’s three children, born into a middle-class family to Luigi Berlusconi and Rosa Bossi. He has an older sister and a younger brother. His father worked at a bank, while his mother was a stay-at-home mom.
He received his primary education from a Salesian institution before enrolling at the Universita Statale in Milan to pursue a law degree. In 1961, he received his bachelor’s degree with honors from the same institution.
He developed a talent for playing bass throughout his time at university and became competent at it. He began his career as a cruise ship crooner.
Career of Silvio Berlusconi
In the late 1960s, he began his career in the construction industry, with his first significant project being the construction of a 4000 residential apartment building in Milan.
After making a fortune in real estate, he ventured into the field of media in 1973, founding Telemilano, a tiny cable television firm. What set his station apart from the rest was the fact that he used it to introduce international entertainment to Italy.
His media firm prospered, and he went on to purchase two more channels and transfer the station to the heart of Milan. In 1978, he established his first media company, Fininvest, which helped him climb the success ladder even higher. The corporation owns a number of local television stations around the United States.
He launched Italy’s first private national network, Canale 5, two years later, in 1980. He went on to buy two more private national networks in the following years, Italia 1 in 1982 and Rete 4 in 1984, forming the first commercial television empire.
Berlusconi’s three channels were not authorized to carry news or political commentary during political turbulence in Italy in 1985 due to legal issues. The Mammi Law, which upgraded the status of channels to full national TV channels in 1990, resolved the issue.
Meanwhile, he entered politics in 1993, creating the Forza Italy political party. He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies the following year.
He was elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the 1994 legislative elections.
Differences between Forza Italy’s coalition partners, the League and the National Alliance, led to his cabinet’s demise in just nine months. In the 1996 elections, he was defeated by Romano Prodi, a centre-left contender.
Irascible in the face of defeat, he stayed active in politics and won the 2001 legislative elections as the leader of the right-wing coalition. During his election campaign, he vowed to simplify the tax system, increase jobs, fund public works programs, raise pensions, and reduce crime.
Unlike the previous election, his party received a whopping 45.4 percent of the vote. He was elected Prime Minister after defeating centre-left opponent Francesco Rutelli.
Berlusconi’s time as Prime Minister was turbulent. While he claimed to have kept most of his campaign promises, his critics believed he had failed horribly. The media was also against him.
He ran for parliament in 2006, but was narrowly defeated by Romano Prodi, the opposition’s centre-left leader. Prodi remained as Prime Minister for the next two years before his cabinet fell apart, culminating in a political crisis.
In the 2008 legislative elections, he founded The People of Freedom with Lega Nord and the Sicilian Movement for Autonomy. On May 8, 2008, the coalition prevailed and he was sworn in as Prime Minister for the third time. He promised to improve the state of the Italian economy by combating tax evasion, overhauling the justice system, and lowering the national debt.
On March 27, 2009, he formally disbanded Forza Italia and founded The People of Freedom. He was elected as the political congress’s Chairman. However, he failed to resuscitate Italy’s economy and pull it back from the brink of default during his time as Prime Minister and Chairman of The People of Freedom.
On November 16, 2011, he resigned as prime minister due to the worsening budgetary crisis and dwindling legislative majority. Mario Monti took over as his successor.
He ran for Prime Minister without becoming Prime Minister in the recently held 2013 parliamentary elections, as per an agreement with Lega Nord. He received 29% of the vote.
He is currently backing Enrico Letta’s cabinet, together with the Democratic Party and the centrist Civic Choice of former Prime Minister Mario Monti.
Embezzlement, tax fraud, false accounting, and bribery are among the charges he has faced over the years. He has also been accused of criminal misbehavior and has been embroiled in sex scandals.
He was sentenced to four years in prison for tax fraud in 2012, then seven years in prison the following year for paying an underage lady for sex.
He has stated that he was framed by opposition leaders and is contesting his cases despite not agreeing to any of the charges. He is unlikely to serve a jail sentence because he is over 75 years old, and instead will be placed under house arrest.
Achievements & Awards
He received numerous honors and decorations from various countries for his role in Italian politics, including the Knight of the Order of Merit for Labour from Italy, the Knight of the Order of Pius IX from the Holy See, the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit from Poland, and the Grand Officer of the Order of the Three Stars from Latvia.
In addition, he was awarded the Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit, the Knight Grand Cross of the Romanian Order of the Star, and the Knight Grand Cross of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George.
He is the proud winner of Libya’s Al-Fateh Medal and Saudi Arabia’s Member 1st Class of the Order of Abdulaziz al Saud. He was also made an Honorary Companion of Honour of Malta’s National Order of Merit.
Personal History and Legacy
Carla Elvira Dall’Oglio and he married in 1965. The couple have two children together. Meanwhile, he began a romantic relationship with actress Veronica Lario in 1980, with whom he had three children.
He divorced his first wife in 1985 and married his long-time sweetheart, Lario, five years later. This marriage, too, ended in divorce when Lario filed for divorce.
Estimated Net Worth
When calculated in 2014, Silvio Berlusconi, the notorious Italian politician, has a net worth of roughly US$9 billion. Silvio is regarded as one of the most prominent figures in Italian politics, having served as Prime Minister three times. Berlusconi is the owner of the world-famous football club ‘A.C Milan.’ He’s also known for being one of the most divisive celebrities in the world, because to his expensive parties and criminal activities such as tax evasion.
Because he was the youngest member of the Ordine Cavalleresco al Merito del Lavoro, an Italian order of chivalry designated for entrepreneurs, he is known as ‘Il Cavaliere’ or ‘The Knight.’