Silvio Berlusconi.

Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister who revolutionized politics, soccer and TV, dies

The former Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, died on Monday at the age of 86 at the San Raffaele hospital in Milan due to a complication derived from chronic myelomonocytic leukemia that he had been suffering from for some time. Italy is thus left without what has surely been the most mediatic, charismatic and controversial figure in its recent history.

“In the last 50 years there has not been a day in which his name has not been mentioned on television, in newspapers, in Parliament, in bars or in stadiums,” read La Repubblica, one of the country’s leading newspapers, which perfectly defined Berlusconi’s impact in Italy.

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The ‘Cavaliere’ was admitted on Friday for a “scheduled” check-up for this chronic leukemia, an admission that was initially not serious, but his delicate state of health deteriorated rapidly over the weekend, especially on Sunday night.

On Monday, his closest relatives began to arrive at the hospital early in the morning due to his critical condition. His brother Paolo and his firstborn, Marina, were the first to arrive at the hospital, at around 9.30 a.m., and there they were joined by Berlusconi’s current partner, Marta Fascina, 53 years younger than him and who has always remained by his side. Shortly after, their other four children arrived: Eleonora, Barbara, Pier Silvio and Luigi.

At the gates of San Raffaele, dozens of journalists were soon gathered, waiting for the confirmation of a death that was made official shortly after. Some of Berlusconi’s supporters also gathered outside the hospital gates, displaying messages of remembrance and Italian flags, as well as emblems of his party, Forza Italia.

Berlusconi’s state funeral will take place this Wednesday at Milan’s Duomo, at 3 p.m., and the funeral will be presided over by the city’s archbishop, Monsignor Mario Delphini.

In Rome, the city where he spent his political career, the Italian flag was flying at half-mast on Monday in the Senate, where Berlusconi has held a seat since the last elections of October 2022. The Chamber of Deputies will stop its activity for two days.

Condolences and messages of support for the family came from all corners of Italy, both from allies and political rivals, who remembered Berlusconi as a “historic” character and “protagonist” of the country’s political and social history.

The President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, lamented with “deep sadness” the death of “a great political leader who left his mark, affecting paradigms, customs and language” and whose “leadership contributed to shaping a new geography of Italian politics”.

The current head of government, Giorgia Meloni, who was also a minister in one of Berlusconi’s executives, stated bluntly that “one of the most influential men in the history of Italy” is disappearing. “Berlusconi was above all a fighter, a man who was never afraid to stand up for his convictions, with courage and determination,” she said.

From outside Italy came condolences from world leaders as controversial as the Cavaliere was, including Vladimir Putin and Viktor Orban. “People like him are not many left in the international arena,” Putin stressed, while the Hungarian prime minister said he shared with him “the same ideas about what Europe should be.”

Condolences also came from the world of soccer, especially from Milan, the club he presided over and led to five European Cups, among other titles. “Thank you President. Forever with us,” the club said in a statement.

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Berlusconi’s death has also rocked his economic empire, with a turnover of 5 billion, more than 20,000 employees and divided into 7 holding companies. Moreover, Berlusconi’s assets are valued, according to Forbes, at 7 billion euros, one of the largest fortunes in Italy, which will now have to be divided among his five children.

For the time being, the shares of his media conglomerate MediaForEurope (MFE), the former Mediaset, have risen nearly 10% on Monday on the Milan Stock Exchange. Analysts point out that the news of the death has boosted the purchase of shares under the hypothesis that the demise of the founder may lead to a reorganization in the control structure of the corporate conglomerate.

-Thailand News (TN)

TN

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