Berlusconi, "king" of politics, business and scandals

PHOTO/AFP/Alberto PIZZOLI - Silvio Berlusconi
PHOTO/AFP/Alberto PIZZOLI - Silvio Berlusconi

Silvio Berlusconi, the contemporary figure who needs the least introduction, died on Monday in a hospital in Milan, after a health crisis from which, at 86 years of age, he tried to continue starring in the most varied current affairs imaginable, which he had monopolised for more than two decades. His biography is rich in detail, but it is impossible to distinguish which of all the details best describes his condition in which he intermingled politics, business and the most varied scandals that can be attributed to a public personality who alternated the variants of power with the audiovisual promotion of crass populism and private scenes of sex and corruption. 

It is fair to say, however, that he broke records of popularity, with three re-elections as Prime Minister of an Italy that was always destabilised, and, as this fact reflects, enjoying support at the ballot box that contrasted with his extravagance and dubiously edifying examples. His political demagoguery was never tarnished by his ability to enrich himself without question, nor to show any concern for social inequality, which he gratified with the ownership of audiovisual media far removed from the slightest cultural concern and fanatical following of the footballing vicissitudes of AC Milan, the team whose ownership rounded off the sympathy he verbally aroused. 

His political ideas used to stand out in international forums, especially at the EU level, subject to the suspense about his arguments that always raised doubts beforehand. In this last stage of his political activity he appeared as part of the alliance that brought to the Italian government, headed by Mrs Meloni and best remembered with nostalgia (among so many that have been repeated since the end of the Second World War), the fascist regime led by Benito Mussolini, whose principles continue to be rejected by all democratic societies. It is true that his supporters in the Cabinet are making efforts to prevent those principles and tactics for which he longed from being forgotten. The reality is that, during his long tenure as head of government, freedoms were not threatened and democratic principles were upheld. 

The last reminder of his usually unpredictable political surprise after his death is the support he had been giving to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and his personal sympathies towards Vladimir Putin, whom he considered his friend and supporter, contrary to the rejection of this character by the bulk of politicians (with the other exception of Hungary's Orbán) who share the governments and members of the European Union and NATO and who are doing so much to ensure that the heroism of the Ukrainians will succeed in stopping the ambition emanating from the Kremlin to bring back the happily forgotten Soviet Union.