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Silvio Berlusconi

Silvio Berlusconi

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Silvio Berlusconi
Image:Silvio Berlusconi 20040318a.jpg

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In office
27 April 1994 – 17 January 1995
11 June 200117 May 2006
Deputy Giulio Tremonti and Gianfranco Fini
Preceded by Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
Giuliano Amato
Succeeded by Lamberto Dini
Romano Prodi

Born September 29 1936 (age 81)
Milan, Italy
Political party Forza Italia
Spouse Carla Dall'Oglio (1965)
Veronica Lario (1985)

Silvio Berlusconi  (born September 29, 1936) is an Italian politician, entrepreneur, and media proprietor. He is the leader of the Forza Italia political movement, a centre-right party he founded in 1993 in Rome. Berlusconi has twice held office as prime minister of Italy, most recently from 2001 to 2006.

Berlusconi is the founder and shareholder of Fininvest, the second largest Italian corporation (after Fiat), which deals in media and financial business and, most notably, comprises three national TV channels. Together these account for nearly half the Italian TV market. He is also well known for being, since 1986, the president of A.C. Milan, a prominent Italian football team. Under his presidency it has won a number of national and international trophies. According to Forbes magazine, Berlusconi is Italy's richest person, an allegedly self-made man (see section) with personal assets worth $11 billion (USD) in 2006, making him the world's 37th richest person.<ref>Silvio Berlusconi From Forbes.com's: Forbes World's Richest People, Retrieved 2006/01/03</ref>

His rise in the political arena has been extremely rapid. He was appointed President of the Council of Ministers following the March 1994 elections, when Forza Italia gained a relative majority a mere three months after having been officially launched. He formed the first unabashedly right-wing administration in 34 years. However, his cabinet collapsed after seven months, due to internal disagreements in the centre-right coalition. In the 1996 elections, he ran for Prime Minister again but was defeated by centre-left candidate Romano Prodi. From 1996 to 2001 he was the leader of the parliamentary opposition. In the 2001 elections, he was again the centre-right candidate for Prime Minister and won against the centre-left candidate Francesco Rutelli. Berlusconi then formed his second and third governments, which together lasted five years – the longest in the history of the Italian Republic.

Berlusconi was leader of the centre-right coalition in the April 2006 elections, which he lost, his counterpart being again Romano Prodi. On 17 May, 2006 he was formally succeeded by Prodi.

In economics, Berlusconi has endorsed conservative policies, such as lowering taxes and generally placing lesser constraints on enterprise, in an effort to encourage growth. In foreign policy, his views have been strongly pro-American, even at the expense of causing some attrition with other European countries; in particular he supported George W. Bush in the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq by sending Italian troops to join the "Coalition of the Willing" (after the attack, only for peacekeeping). In social policy matters the Berlusconi government has implemented a decidedly right-wing program: passing stricter laws concerning immigration, artificial insemination and drug use.

Although many aspects of Berlusconi's life and personality are highly controversial, what probably makes him a somewhat unique case in modern politics is the issue of media ownership and control. According to Berlusconi's adversaries, the Mediaset (Fininvest's media division) TV channels have played a crucial role in his political success by airing open or "covert" propaganda during news or other information-oriented programming. In contrast, his supporters claim that the networks have always maintained a neutral political stance. The issue has become even more divisive since Berlusconi's rise to premiership, with the left accusing him of also abusing his position as premier to control the publicly owned RAI TV channels. In practice, they maintain, this permits him to control almost all TV sources of information, while the right insists that the RAI channels are, if anything, biased in favor of the centre-left. Since this matter is, by its very nature, hard to settle objectively, the political debate in Italy has become rather alienating, as the contenders often seem to completely lack a shared information source regarded as neutral and reliable. While it must be noted that Berlusconi officially resigned from all functions in his commercial group in 1994 upon entering political office, he is still the largest shareholder, and all the key posts are held by members of his family or close collaborators.

Contents

[edit] Family background and private life

Berlusconi was raised in an upper middle-class family in Milan. His father Luigi worked at a small bank famous for allegedly laundering the Mafia's dirty money, Banca Rasini, of which he became general manager in the 1960s before retiring. Silvio was the first of three children, the others being Maria Antonietta Berlusconi (born 1943) and Paolo Berlusconi (born 1949), now both entrepreneurs.

After completing his secondary school education at a Salesian college, he studied law at the Università Statale in Milan, graduating cum laude with a thesis on the legal aspects of advertising in 1961. Berlusconi did not serve the standard one-year stint in the army which was compulsory at the time.

In 1965 he married Carla Dall'Oglio, and they had two children: Maria Elvira, better known as Marina (born 1966) and Piersilvio (b. 1968). Years later, Berlusconi established a durable relationship with the actress Veronica Lario (born Miriam Bartolini), with whom he had three children: Barbara (b. 1984), Eleonora (b. 1986) and Luigi (b. 1988). He was divorced from Dall'Oglio in 1985, and married Lario in 1990. At this time, Berlusconi was a well-known entrepreneur, and his wedding was a notable social event. One of the best men for the wedding was former Prime Minister Bettino Craxi, during whose government was passed a law named after Berlusconi himself.

[edit] Business career

Image:Craxi Berlusconi.gif
Silvio Berlusconi with Bettino Craxi, the Prime Minister of Italy at the time.

[edit] Milano 2

Berlusconi's business career began in the building construction business in the 1960s. In the late 1960s, he had the idea of developing Milano 2, a garden city of around 3,500 flats. It was built on the eastern outskirts of Milan beneath the flight path of aircraft taking off from nearby Linate airport. The appeal of the development was enhanced after the aircraft were mysteriously diverted over other residential areas.

This was not the only mystery. Companies in Switzerland, where beneficial ownership is impenetrable, injected 4.1 billion lire (20 million euros in today’s money) in equity into the Italian companies responsible for Milano 2. So, on paper, this project belonged not to Mr Berlusconi, but to anonymous third parties. The main suspect is the Italian mafia, through his father's bank, famous for laundering the mafia's money.

Officials at the Bank of Italy suspected that Mr Berlusconi was behind the Swiss companies. At the time, holding capital abroad without telling the authorities was a criminal offence. A team from the Guardia di Finanza, led by Massimo Berruti, investigated in 1979, but concluded, despite evidence that Mr Berlusconi had personally guaranteed bank loans to the Italian companies, that he was not the beneficial owner of the Swiss companies. Mr Berruti’s boss signed the official report. Like Mr Berlusconi, he belonged to the infamous P2 masonic lodge. Immediately after his investigation, Mr Berruti left the Guardia di Finanza and worked as a lawyer for Mr Berlusconi. He is now a Forza Italia member of parliament.

His first entry into the media world was in 1973 by means of a cable television station, Telemilano, designed to service his Milano 2 residential development.

[edit] Villa Casati-Stampa, Cesare Previti, and Vittorio Mangano

In 1974 Berlusconi moved with his family into Villa Casati, in Milan. He was accused of buying this Villa at a dirt-cheap price, by taking advantage of the drama which befell the Casati-Stampa family (the Marquis Camillo Casati-Stampa shot his wife and her lover, then committed suicide). A political ally of Berlusconi, Cesare Previti, acted as trustee for the orphans, and sold the Villa to Berlusconi. Villa Casati-Stampa was renamed by Berlusconi "Villa San Martino". Marcello Dell'Utri, a close friend and coworker of Berlusconi, brought into this Villa the young Mafia boss Vittorio Mangano, from Palermo (Sicily). Officially Mangano was hired by Berlusconi as his stable keeper, but he also took care of the Villa's security and sometimes took Berlusconi's children to school. Berlusconi kept Mangano as an employee despite his criminal record dating back to the 1960s, and never dismissed him even when, during his time as employee in the Villa, he was imprisoned because of convictions, and suspected of arranging the kidnapping of a friend of Berlusconi. Mangano left spontaneously in late 1976, concerned about Berlusconi's reputation, since many newspapers started making a scandal about his relationship to him24. Berlusconi later stated that he was absolutely unaware of who Mangano really was when he hired him.

[edit] Fininvest

In 1978 Berlusconi formed his first media group, Fininvest, which in the five years leading up to 1983 earned 113 billion lire (the equivalent of about 260 million euro at 1997 values). The funding sources are still unknown because of the complex system of holding companies that makes them impossible to trace, despite investigations conducted by various state attorneys. Among the banks involved in this transfer of funds was the above mentioned Banca Rasini.

Fininvest expanded into a country-wide network of local TV stations which all broadcast the same materials, forming, in effect, a single national station. This was illegal at the time, since Italian law reserved the monopoly of national TV broadcasting to public television, RAI. In 1980 Berlusconi founded Italy's first private national network Canale 5, followed shortly thereafter by Italia 1 which was bought from the Rusconi family in 1982, and Rete 4 which was bought from Mondadori in 1984. Only at this point, in application of the law which then reserved national broadcasting to public television, the judges of Turin, Pescara and Rome seized and deactivated the broadcasting infrastructures. But Berlusconi was strongly aided in his successful effort to create the first and only Italian commercial TV empire by his links to Bettino Craxi, secretary-general of the Italian Socialist Party and also prime minister of Italy at that time. Craxi, with an urgent decree, legalized the national broadcasts made by Berlusconi's televisions. After some political turmoilm in 1985 the decree was definitively approved. For some years, the three channels owned by Berlusconi existed in this strange limbo, and were not therefore allowed, for instance, to broadcast news and political commentary. They were fully equiparated to national TV channels in 1990 with the so-called Mammì law.

In 1986, Berlusconi also tried to expand his business into France with his channel La Cinq, but the project failed and he had to leave in 1990.

In 1995, Berlusconi sold a portion of his media holdings, first to the German media group Kirch (now bankrupt) and then by public offer. In 1999 Berlusconi expanded again in the media business in a partnership with Kirch called the Epsilon MediaGroup.

[edit] Current assets

Berlusconi's main group, called Mediaset, comprises three national television channels, which hold approximately half the national viewing audience, and Publitalia, the leading Italian advertising and publicity agency. He also owns Arnoldo Mondadori, the largest Italian publishing house, whose publications include Panorama, one of the most popular news magazine in Italy. He has interests in cinema and home video distribution firms (Medusa and Penta), insurance and banking (Mediolanum) and a variety of other activities. His brother Paolo owns and operates Il Giornale, and his wife owns Il Foglio, both centre-right newspapers; they are widely regarded as openly pro-Berlusconi publications. The latter has such poor sales that some observers have claimed that it is kept alive by Berlusconi solely for that purpose.

Berlusconi also owns the football club AC Milan, which some think has been an important factor in his political success ("Forza Italia" means "Go Italy!") and before the party was founded it was connected to football supporters of the national team. [1]).

[edit] Political career

[edit] "Entering the field"

In the early 1990s, the two largest Italian political parties, the Christian Democrats (Democrazia Cristiana) and the Socialist Party (Partito Socialista Italiano) lost much of their electoral strength due to a large number of judicial investigations concerning the financial corruption of many of their foremost members (see the Mani Pulite affair). This led to a general expectation that upcoming elections would be won by the Democratic Party of the Left (Partito Democratico della Sinistra), (the former Communist Party) and their allies in the Progressive coalition unless there was a strong alternative. Berlusconi publicly announced on January 26th, 1994 his decision to enter politics ("Entering the field", in his own words) on a platform centered on the defeat of Communism. The timing of his announcement raised some questions, however, because, just a couple of weeks before he decided to enter politics, investigators into the Mani Pulite affair were close to issuing warrants for the arrest of him as well as the chief executives of his business group.

[edit] The debate about motives

One of the most debated matters about Berlusconi concerns the true reasons that Berlusconi entered into politics in the first place.

Some critics have argued that Berlusconi entered into politics for completely self-interested reasons: saving his own companies from bankruptcy and himself from convictions. According to journalist Marco Travaglio, Berlusconi "never hid [this motive] from anyone. From the very beginning he said it clearly to his associates (and also to Biagi and to Montanelli): If I don't enter politics, I'm going to jail and into bankruptcy" 25.

On the other hand, Berlusconi's supporters hailed him as the "new man", an outsider who was going to bring a new efficiency to the public bureaucracy and reform the state from top to bottom. They argued that he was too rich to have any interest in using politics to become even richer, and that, regarding his judicial trials, his opponents were just trying to get rid of him by way of judicial persecution.

While investigating these matters, three journalists23 noted the following facts:

  • Mediobanca's annual report about the 10 biggest Italian companies showed that, in 1992, Berlusconi's media and finance group Fininvest had about 7,140 billion lire of debts, while its net worth (that is, assets minus debts) amounted to 'just' 1,053. Furthermore, the creditor banks started asking for their money back and the advertising income stopped growing after the big increases of the previous years.
  • Between 1992 and 1993, Fininvest had undergone several judicial investigations by Milan, Turin and Rome prosecutors. They regarded: alleged bribes (to political parties and public officers with the aim of getting contracts), alleged fake invoices of Publitalia, political congress financing and television frequencies.

[edit] The 1994 Electoral Victory

Berlusconi founded Forza Italia only two months before the 1994 elections. He formed two separate electoral alliances: one with the Northern League (Lega Nord) in northern Italian districts, and another, the Alliance for Freedom, with the right-wing National Alliance (Alleanza Nazionale; heir to the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement) in central and southern regions. In a shrewd pragmatic move, he did not ally with the latter in the North because the League disliked them. As a result, Forza Italia was allied with two parties that were not allied with each other.

Berlusconi launched a massive campaign of electoral advertisements on his three TV networks. He subsequently won the elections, with Forza Italia raking in 21% of the popular vote, the highest percentage of any single party. One of the most significant promises that he made in order to secure victory was that his government would create "one million more jobs". He was appointed Prime Minister in 1994, but his term in office was short because of the inherent contradictions in his coalition: the League, a regional party with a strong electoral base in northern Italy, was at that time oscillating between federalist and separatist positions, and the National Alliance was a nationalist party that had yet to renounce neo-fascism at the time.

[edit] Fall of the Berlusconi I administration

In December 1994, the Northern League left the coalition claiming that the electoral pact had not been respected, forcing Berlusconi to resign from office and shifting the majority's weight to the centre-left side. The Northern League also resented the fact that many of its MPs had switched to Forza Italia, allegedly lured by promises of more prestigious portfolios. Berlusconi remained as caretaker prime minister for a little over a month until his replacement by a technocratic government headed by Lamberto Dini. Dini had been a key minister in the Berlusconi cabinet, and Berlusconi said the only way he would support a technocratic government would be if Dini headed it. In the end, however, Dini was only supported by most opposition parties, including the Northern League, but not by Forza Italia. In 1996, this coalition was replaced, after a new election, by a centre-left government (without the Northern League) led by Romano Prodi [2].

[edit] Electoral Victory of 2001

In 2001 Berlusconi again ran as leader of the centre-right coalition House of Freedoms (Casa delle Libertà) which included National Alliance, UDC (United Christian Democrats), Northern League and other parties. Despite the assertion that, during the "interregnum", some members of the League had defined him "a traitor" and even hinted at accusations of his mafia allegiance, this time the alliance with the northern party was tighter than the first time. Berlusconi's success in this election led to him becoming Prime Minister once more, with the coalition receiving 45.4% of the vote for the Chamber of Deputies and 42.5% for the Senate.

In a TV show during the electoral campaign, Berlusconi signed the so-called Contratto con gli Italiani (agreement with Italians), that was likely a key step to achieve the victory. In this unofficial agreement, Berlusconi claimed he could improve several aspects of the Italian economy and life, including lowering taxes, increasing employment, building up new public works, increasing retirement rents and strangling crime.

Opposition parties have always asserted that Berlusconi was not able to achieve the goals he claimed in Contratto con gli Italiani. The National Alliance and UDC (Berlusconi's allied parties) also asserted that the Government did not manage to respect the promises in the agreement. According to them, Berlusconi's failure was due to the unfavourable economical condition that Italy was experiencing. In particular, the Italian GDP grew very slowly during Berlusconi's Government, and the public debt rose quickly. On the other hand, Berlusconi himself has always claimed he achieved all the goals of the agreement, and said his Government provided un miracolo continuo (a continuous miracle).

[edit] Subsequent elections

Casa delle Libertà did not do as well in the 2003 local elections as it did in the 2001 national elections. And, in common with many other European governing groups, in the 2004 elections of the European Parliament, gaining 43.37% support. Forza Italia's support was also reduced from 29.5% to 21.0% (in the 1999 European elections Forza Italia had 25.2%). As an outcome of these results the other coalition parties, whose electoral results were more satisfactory, asked Berlusconi and Forza Italia for greater influence in the government's political line.

[edit] The Berlusconi III Cabinet

In the 2005 Local Elections (April 3 and April 4, 2005), the candidates supported by the Union Coalition (formerly known as Olive Tree) won in 12 out of 14 regions which were renovating local governments and Governor; Berlusconi's coalition held in only two regions (Lombardy and Veneto). Two parties (UDC and Socialist Party) left the Berlusconi government. Berlusconi thus presented to the President of the Republic the dissolution of his government on April 20 2005, after much hesitation. On April 23 he formed a new government with the same allies, reshuffling the ministers and amending the government program. A key point required by UDC (and to a minor extent by AN) was to reduce the focus on tax reduction the government had had in the past.

There have been some criticisms on Berlusconi's choices especially on the appointment as new ministry of Health, position previously held by Girolamo Sirchia - a renown Professor and doctor-, of Francesco Storace, who, only a few weeks earlier, was the President of Latium Region.

[edit] The 2006 Elections

In the 2006 Parliamentary Elections, the results has given Prodi's bloc (Berlusconi's opposition) the majority (49.8% against 49.7% for the ruling centre-right in the Lower House and two senators lead in the Senate 158 vs 156). This situation has assigned to Prodi the possibility to form a new Cabinet, because of the recent modification to electoral rules introduced by Berlusconi's Cabinet. The Center/Left coalition, with a margin of victory of 25,224 votes (out of over 38 million voters), nevertheless won 348 seats (versus 281 for Casa delle Libertà) because of the majority premium. Moreover, despite the victory of Berlusconi's coalition in the Senate (achieving 50.2% of total votes), the Casa delle Libertà hasn't the majority of senators which have been assigned, due to the electoral district voting system, to the Union Coalition lead by Romano Prodi. Heavily contested election reforms from 2005 designed to create a favourable environment for the centre-right played an important, but ultimately doomed role in splitting the result.

Berlusconi at first spoke of electoral fraud and his coalition has asked for a recount, disputing the results and refusing to admit defeat. He also asked for a "grand coalition" Cabinet, following Germany's example. To support this view Berlusconi claimed that the Unione shouldn't govern against the will of half the Italian people. In 2001 however Berlusconi got a majority of senators with just 42.5% of the vote, and governed five years with it.

The Court of Cassation has validated the voting procedures and determined that the election process was constitutional, thus confirming at present the election results.

Centrist parties like UDC immediately conceded the Unione's victory, while more right wing elements, like Berlusconi's Forza Italia and Lega Nord, still refused to accept its validity, right up until the 2nd of May 2006, when Berlusconi submitted his resignation to president Ciampi [3].

[edit] Policies

As he founded his Forza Italia party and entered politics, Berlusconi expressed support for "freedom, the individual, family, enterprise, Italian tradition, Christian tradition and love for weaker people" [4]. Forza Italia could be considered a liberal party on economical issues, although references to liberalism were more common in the initial years of the party development than they are now; some consider Forza Italia a populist party. However, Forza Italia officially joined the European People's Party in 1999, theoretically choosing to be identified mainly as a Christian Democratic party. Internal democracy in the party is very low and internal dissent virtually non-existent. There are no known factions or currents; at present three party conventions have been held, all of them resolved to support Berlusconi, and his re-election by acclamation. Every man in the party apparatus is appointed by Berlusconi himself: for all these reasons, its political opponents call Forza Italia "the plastic party".

Some allies of Berlusconi, especially Lega Nord (Northern League) push for a strong control of immigration and getting their support has required some changes in policies from Berlusconi. Berlusconi himself has shown some reluctance to pursue such policies as strongly as his allies might like. [5] Even so, a number of measures have been taken, but the effects are controversial. The government, after introducing a controversial immigration law (the "Bossi-Fini", from the names of Lega Nord and Alleanza Nazionale leaders) is searching for the cooperation of both European and other Mediterranean countries to face the emergency of the large number of immigrants trying to reach Italian coasts on old and overloaded ferries and fishing boats, risking (and, often, losing) their life.

The Berlusconi government has had a strong tendency to support American foreign policies despite the policy divide between the U.S. and many other founding members of European Union (Germany, France, Belgium), a break from the traditional Italian foreign policy. Italy, with Berlusconi in office, became a substantial ally to the United States due to his support of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.

Berlusconi, in his meetings with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and U.S. President George W. Bush, said that he pushed for "a clear turnaround in the Iraqi situation" and for a quick hand-over of sovereignty to the government chosen by the U.N. Italy has some 2,700 troops deployed in Southern Iraq, the third largest contingent there after the American and British forces.

The government confirms the agenda to reduce taxes and simplify the taxation system for both privates and enterprises (Berlusconi himself engaged personally during his electoral campaign). The opposition claims these programs are not realistic in the present economic trend. The EU Commission also pushes for a strict budget control, to meet the European mandatory standards. It must be noted the Italian State has historically a large debt (at the present time 106% of GDP) whose cost heavily burdens the annual budgets.

A key point of the government program is the planned reform of the Italian Constitution (which Berlusconi said to be "inspired by Soviets"[6]), an issue the coalition parties themselves initially had significantly different opinions about, with Lega Nord insisting on the federal reform (devolution of more power to the Regions) as the condition itself for remaining in the coalition; Alleanza Nazionale pushing for the so-called "strong premiership" (more powers to the executive), meant as a counterweight to the federal reform, to preserve the State unity; UDC asking for an electoral law not damaging small parties (more proportional) and being generally more willing to find a compromise with the moderate wing of the opposition. Difficulties in arranging a mediation caused some internal unrest in the Berlusconi government in 2003, but then they were mostly overcome and the law (comprising power devolution to the regions, Federal Senate, "strong premiership" and to be complemented with a new electoral law) was passed by the Senate in April 2004; it was slightly modified by the Chamber of Deputies in October 2004, and again on October 2005 and has finally been approved by the Senate on November 16, 2005 by 170 to 132 votes (and three abstentions). The opposition Union coalition has collected more than 500,000 signatures in order to call a referendum in which they are "confident" that the "Italian people will reject it."

Image:Silvio Berlusconi and Rick Perry.jpg
Silvio Berlusconi meeting with Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas.

[edit] Legislative actions

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Berlusconi's government passed many pieces of legislation, among which:

  • The reform of the labour system. (to be expanded)
  • The reform of the school system. (to be expanded)
  • The law on large public works (MOSE project saving city of Venice, High speed railways Turin-Milan-Florence-Rome-Naples and Turin-Verona-Venice, Bridge between Sicily and Italy, underground in Rome, Parma, Naples, Turin, Milan, a strong modernisation of Highways and Water structures in South of Italy, project "Highways on the sea", etc. )
  • Abolition of Donation and succession taxes on high income (these taxes had already been abolished for low- and medium- income taxpayers by the previous government)
  • The abolition of compulsory military service for all male Italians (the armed forces now composed only of volunteers since 2004, anticipating the deadline set in a law passed by the previous government)
  • The Urbani decree, named after the Ministro per i beni e le attività culturali Giuliano Urbani, punishing whoever circulates, even via file sharing software, a film or other copyrighted material or part of it, or enjoys it with the same technology, with a 1,500 € fine, the confiscation of the instruments and the material, and the publication of the measure on a national daily paper and a periodical about shows. The decree was later modified by the parliament to include only copyright violation for the purpose of profit, where "profit" also includes the savings due to not buying the software. Interestingly enough, Gabriella Carlucci, the member of parliament who presented the case for this law in the lower house of parliament, stated that she couldn't be expected to read all the text of the law.

Also, well-known (because regulating aspects of every-day life) legislative acts were:

  • The reform of rules regarding drivers' licenses, which (according to the Italian police department) led to a 14.5% decrease in car accidents, or an 18.5% decrease of lethal car accidents.[citation needed] This law was actually a small modification to a law passed by the parliament in the previous term, and which was going to be applied soon anyway.
  • The increase in taxation on blank data storage devices — this was required by a European Union directive, but the fee in Italy is much higher than in most other EU countries, so that many people now buy them abroad.
  • The controversial banning of smoking in offices, pubs, restaurants and other public places, which came into effect in January 2005.
  • The law regulating artificial insemination, banning research on embryonic stem cells, pre-implant diagnosis and insemination by donors other than the husband, forcing women to being implanted after the embryo creation even in case of genetic diseases, recognising the embryo as a human rights bearer. The abrogation of the most controversial items has been the object of an unsuccessful popular referendum called in June 2005 by former allies such as the Italian Radicals, together with some (but not all) parties of L'Unione.

In a controversial move, the Berlusconi government also passed a new media reform legislation. Among other things, such legislation increased the maximum limit on an individual's share of the media market, allowing Berlusconi to retain control of his three national TV channels (one of which was still using a frequency which by law should have gone to another channel). The legislation also enabled the roll-out of digital television and internet based publishing, and hence his government claimed it resolved the problem of conflict of interest and his media monopoly "by opening up more channels". The law was initially vetoed by the President of the Republic, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, on charges of being anti-constitutional, but it was then forced into law by the Parliament.

A less known law made the so called "Articolo 41 bis" punitive jail regime for mafia leaders a permanent provision. Under previous law, it had to be confirmed every two years.

The new pensions' law, issued on July 2004, raised the minimum age for retirement and added incentives for delayed retirement.

Berlusconi has forced through the Parliament an overall constitutional reform to deepen the current federal form of the State and strengthen the power of the Prime Minister. This reform is disputed, because it has been imposed only by repressing the former separatist party Lega Nord, and without an adequate sharing with the opposition. Many experts of constitutional law think it is fraught with potential disfunctionalities. As of January 2006, the reform has been approved by the Parliament but the popular referendum on June 2006 stopped this reform into becoming law..

In October 2005, Berlusconi forced a reform of electoral law. The First Past the Post system is abolished, even if it was voted by the people in the referendum of 1993 and even if a referendum to strengthen the system failed because the needed quorum was not reached in 1999 for a few voters.

Other pieces of legislation included:

  • the decriminalization of false account statements;
  • the suspension of trials against the highest officers of the state during their terms (this law was later declared unconstitutional);
  • a much shorter statute of limitation for white-collar crimes, coupled with an increase in sanctions for repeated offenders. The opposition argued that this law was designed to save a close friend of Berlusconi, Cesare Previti, from corruption charges; however, after modifications by the parliament, Previti was excluded by the benefits of this law

In the last few days of the term, Berlusconi's parliamentary majority approved many controversial laws, sometimes combining some into unrelated ones. For example, a bill about the Winter Olympics also included controversial provisions tightening penalties for drugs use and peddling.

One of the last bills was a penal code reform forbidding prosecutors to appeal against acquittals (defendants could still appeal, though). This law was not signed by President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi for being clearly anti-constitutional, since the constitution of Italy provides for equal rights for prosecutors and defendants. The law will have to go through both houses of parliament again.

[edit] Controversies

Because of his central role in the last decade of Italian politics, his personal fortune, his involvement in the media structure of Italy, his P2 membership, and also because of his extroverted personality, Silvio Berlusconi has often been at the centre of major controversies.

[edit] Arguments for Illegal Jobs

In December 2002, Berlusconi astonished observers when he suggested that laid-off FIAT workers should take illegal non-tax-paying jobs to make ends meet.[7]

[edit] The Economist

One of Berlusconi's strongest critics in the media outside Italy is the British weekly The Economist (nicknamed by Berlusconi "The Ecommunist"). The war of words between Berlusconi and The Economist has been infamous and widely reported, with Berlusconi taking the publication to court in Rome and The Economist publishing open letters against him [8].

In any event, according to The Economist, Berlusconi, while in his position as prime minister of Italy, had effective control of 90% of all national television broadcasting. [9] This figure included stations he owns directly as well as those he had indirect control of through his position as Prime Minister and his ability to influence the choice of the management bodies of these stations.

[edit] Influence on the media

Berlusconi's extensive control of the media has been linked to claims that Italy's media shows limited freedom of expression. The Freedom of the Press 2004 Global Survey, an annual study issued by the American organization Freedom House, downgraded Italy's ranking from 'Free' to 'Partly Free' [10] on the basis of Berlusconi's influence over RAI, a ranking which, in "Western Europe" was shared only with Turkey (2005). Reporters Without Borders states that in 2004, "The conflict of interests involving prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and his vast media empire was still not resolved and continued to threaten news diversity".[11] In April 2004, the International Federation of Journalists joined the criticism, objecting to the passage of a law vetoed by Carlo Azeglio Ciampi in 2003, which critics believe is designed to protect Berlusconi's alleged 90% control of national media. [12]

Berlusconi's influence over RAI became evident when in Sofia, Bulgaria he expressed his views on the journalists Enzo Biagi, Michele Santoro [13], and comedian Daniele Luttazzi. Berlusconi said the they "use television as a criminal mean of communication". On August 5 2002 The board of RAI open a procedure against Santoro due to the content of two transmissions “Sciuscià Edizione Straordinaria”, broadcasted live on may 24 2002, and the reportage “Sciuscià” aired on July 16 2002. Enzo Biagi resigned from his position in RAI releasing a statement in which he declared "[...] di non essere stato buttato fuori dalla RAI. Al contrario con la stessa ho raggiunto di mia iniziativa un accordo per me pienamente soddisfacente - I have not been thrown out of RAI. On the contrary with RAI I reached on my own initiative a personally satisfactory agreement..." [14] </blockquote>

The TV broadcasting of a satirical program called Raiot was censored in November 2003 after the comedienne, Sabina Guzzanti, made outspoken criticism of the Berlusconi media empire [15]. Mediaset, one of Berlusconi's companies, sued the Italian state broadcasting company RAI because of the Guzzanti show asking for 20 million Euro for "damages" and from November 2003 she was forced to appear only in theatres around Italy. The details of the event were made into a Michael Moore-style documentary called Viva Zapatero! produced by Guzzanti.

In response to such claims, Mediaset, Berlusconi's television group, has stated that it uses the same criteria as the public (state-owned) television RAI in assigning a proper visibility to all the most important political parties and movements (the so-called 'Par Condicio'). It is also true that while the distribution of newspapers in Italy is lower than most other European countries (100 copies per 1000 individuals compared to 500 per 1000 in Scandinavian countries [16]), the majority of national press, which includes the three largest Italian printed dailies, La Repubblica, Il Corriere della Sera and La Stampa, tends to report independently of the Berlusconi government or (in the case of La Repubblica) to be very openly critical of it. Yet the resignations of the director of Corriere della Sera, Ferruccio de Bortoli, were seen as a grasp for more media control from the government. In fact the FNSI, the Trade Union for Italian Journalists, organized a three day long strike to show support to the former director of the newspaper.

In March 2006, on the Rai Tre, in a television interview with Lucia Annunziata, originally aimed to address Berlusconi's electoral program, the journalist focussed most queries over the possible conflicts of commercial and political interest of Berlusconi and other themes. Berlusconi and Annunziata argued openly because Berlusconi wanted to answer more deeply to a previos question, and as result Berlusconi stormed out of the studio halfway through the show, refusing to answer the persisting questions posed by Annunziata. [17] For the behaviour held in the interview, RAI has been obliged by the Television Authority (which is run by an opposition leader) to take actions against Annunziata as she has violated the par condicio [18]

[edit] Conflicts of interests

The conflict-of-interest issues can be better understood in the context of the structure of control of the state media. The law delegated the presidents of the Chamber and Deputies to elect the president of RAI and the board of directors. In practice the decision is a political one, which generally results in some opposition representatives becoming directors, but with a majority in the hands of the government candidates; typical numbers used to be two directors and the president for the parliamentary majority, and two directors for the opposition. There is also a parliamentary supervisory commission, where the president is customarily a member of the opposition. During the Baldassarre presidency of RAI, the two opposition directors and the one closer to UDC left for internal disagreements, usually centered on censorship issues. RAI continued to be run by a two-man team (mockingly nicknamed by the opposition i giapponesi, "the Japanese" after the Japanese soldiers that kept fighting in the Pacific ocean after the end of World War II).

The Italian Left coalition has been often criticized for not approving a law to regulate the conflict of interest between media ownership and holding political officies, despite they had ruled over Italy for several years before 2001. In the early 90s, Berlusconi Media group was close to bankruptcy, also because of the competition with the public broadcaster RAI. Berlusconi said to his fellows that the only way out was to make a deal with RAI to end competition (that is to make a cartel), lower costs and quality of programs, and fix audience share to about 45% for both. In 2002, Luciano Violante, a prominent member of the Left, said in a speech in Parliament:

«Onorevole Anedda, la invito a consultare l’onorevole Berlusconi perché lui sa per certo che gli è stata data la garanzia piena, non adesso, nel 1994, quando ci fu il cambio di governo - che non sarebbero state toccate le televisioni. Lo sa lui e lo sa l’onorevole Letta».(Luciano Violante, Chamber of Deputies of Italy, February 28 2002)

Authors of book Inciucio26 claim that sentence to be an evidence that the Left make a deal with Berlusconi in 1994, promising to not respect a sentence of the Constitutional Court of Italy that required to assign to someone else one of the three TV frequencies used by Berlusconi, in order to enforce pluralism and competition; according to the authors this would be an explanation of why the Left, despite of having won the 1996 elections, didn't pass a law to solve the conflicts of interests between media ownership and political career.

Controversy concerning Berlusconi's conflicts of interest are normally centered around the use of his media and marketing power for political gain; however, there is also controversy regarding financial gains. When RAI was being run by a 2-man team appointed by the presidents of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate (both in Berlusconi's coalition), the state broadcaster lost a significant market share to the rival Mediaset group, owned and run by the Berlusconi family, which has led to large personal gain. Berlusconi has many financial interests, and it is inevitable that a lot of legislation can have a direct financial impact on his fortune. His government has passed some laws that have shortened statutory terms for tax fraud. Berlusconi responded to critics by saying that he would not take advantage of these himself, but later he did. Critics claim that this situation indicates that laws about conflict of interest and anti-trust are in practice completely ineffective. Berlusconi himself claims to have resolved his conflict of interest: for example, he cites the fact that he is neither longer president of Mediaset, nor 100% owner.

[edit] Jokes

Berlusconi is also famous in Italy for knowing and telling a large number of jokes, sometimes (perhaps inadvertently) causing offence to different groups and individuals, and being seen by someone as embarrassing to his office and to Italian people which he represented. Berlusconi's sense of humor could also be seen, however, as his attempt to show that he has not lost touch with the common Italian, as well as providing a stark contrast to the perceived dullness and political-correctness of many contemporary politicians.

On April 4 2000, from his electoral ship, he shared a joke about AIDS; A man with AIDS meets his doctor and asks him: "Doctor, what can I do for my illness?". The doctor answers: "Have a mud bath". "But doc, will that really do me any good?" "Not really, but you'll get used to being buried!".

In February 2002, at a European Union summit of foreign ministers, Berlusconi, present since the replacement of his previous foreign minister, Renato Ruggiero, had not yet been appointed, made a vulgar gesture (the "corna") behind the head of the Spanish foreign minister, Josep Piqué, indicating he (Piqué) was a cuckold, exactly at the time of the taking of the official pictures. This is a common joke among Italian fellows, and many felt it was utterly out of place in an international meeting. He later explained that he "was joking", and was trying to create a relaxed climate, that this sort of meeting were meant to "create friendship, cordiality, simpatia and kind relationships" between the participants, and that he wanted to amuse a small group of Boy Scout bystanders. [19]

On July 2 2003, one day after taking over the rotating presidency of the EU Council of Ministers, he was heavily criticised by the German Member of the European Parliament Martin Schulz (from the SPD) because of his domestic policy. Berlusconi replied, "Mister Schulz, I know a movie-producer in Italy that is making a movie about Nazi concentration camps. I will suggest you to play the role of a Kapo (concentration-camp inmate appointed as supervisor). You are perfect!". Even though Berlusconi insisted that he was only joking, his comparisons with the Nazis caused a brief diplomatic rift between Italy and Germany. The incident was considered especially inappropriate, since Schulz is a socialist, a group who themselves were persecuted and sent to concentration camps, while Berlusconi himself is leading a government including the successor of the Italian Fascist Party, and whose deputy once said that Benito Mussolini was a great Italian statesman.

In mid-May 2005, while opening the European Food Safety Authority in Parma (after the location had previously been preferred over one in Finland and Berlusconi had accused Finns of "not knowing what prosciutto is"), Berlusconi claimed that he had to "dust off my English-language playboy arts" with the Finnish president, Tarja Halonen, to convince her to locate the EFSA in Parma. This caused criticism from both Italy and Finland, with the Italian ambassador in Finland being called by the Finnish foreign minister. [20]. Berlusconi later 'retracted' the comment by saying that anyone who had seen a picture of Halonen must have been aware that he had been joking.

Before that, speaking to a group of Wall Street traders, he listed a series of reasons to invest in Italy. The first of them was that "we have the most beautiful secretaries in the world". This resulted in an uproar back home, where, for a day, female deputies in Parliament took part in a cross-party protest. Sexist jokes are considered bad taste in Nordic countries: however, they are part of a macho image in Italy, and are therefore more accepted, although far from being classy.

In March 2006, Berlusconi defended accusations he made that the "Chinese Communists used to eat children", by responding with claims that "...read the Black Book of Communism and you will discover that in the China of Mao, they did not eat children, but had them boiled to fertilise the fields". He later admitted "It was questionable irony, I admit it, because this joke is questionable. But I did not know how to restrain myself". His political opponent, Romano Prodi, told the press, "the damage caused to Italy by an insult to 1.3 billion people is by all means a considerable one", and that Berlusconi's comments were "unthinkable".[21]

On April 4, 2006, less than a week before the oncoming Political Elections in Italy, during a speech given at the National Chamber for Trade Silvio Berlusconi stated that he holds "too high esteem of the Italians' intelligence to think that there are so many coglioni around voting against their interest", coglioni being a vulgar term literally meaning 'bollocks' (morons), commonly used as an insult towards people considered stupid. Later he apologized for the "rude but effective language".

[edit] Legal investigations of Berlusconi

[edit] Delaying tactics

Silvio Berlusconi undoubtedly has a rather long record of judicial trials, as several crimes have been alleged to him or his firms (see also the following subsection on Berlusconi's trials), including false accounting, tax fraud, corruption and bribery of police officers and judges. Some of Berlusconi's close collaborators, friends and firm managers have been found guilty of related crimes, notably his younger brother, Paolo, who in 2002 agreed to pay 52 million euro as a plea bargain to local authorities for various charges including corruption and undue appropriation17. However, no definitive conviction sentence has ever been issued on Silvio Berlusconi himself for any of the trials which have concluded so far; in some cases he has been fully acquitted of the alleged charges, in others he has been acquitted with dubitative formula (not proven), or he was acquitted because the statute of limitations expired before a definitive sentence could be issued; in one case a previously granted amnesty extinguished the crime (perjury) before the sentence came into effect. The Italian legal system allows the statute of limitations to continue to run during the course of the criminal trial. Consequently, the delaying tactics adopted by Berlusconi's attorneys (including repeated motions for change of venue) served to nullify the pending charges.

On July 7, 2006, Judge Fabio Paparella ruled that Berlusconi must stand trial on charges of financial irregularities and corruption relating to his Mediaset empire, alleged to have taken place between 1994 and 1999. The trial is scheduled to begin in November 2006, although this is likely to be delayed as challenges and counter-challenges are made.

[edit] Member of Propaganda Due masonic lodge

Some of the suspects on Berlusconi's person arise from real or perceived blank spots in his past. Notably, in 1981 a scandal arose on the discovery by the police of Licio Gelli's secret freemasonry lodge (Propaganda Due, or P2) aiming to move the Italian political system in an authoritarian direction to oppose communism. A list of names was found of adherents of P2, which included members of the secret services and some prominent personalities from the political, industrial, military and press elite, among which Silvio Berlusconi, who was just starting to gain popularity as the founder and owner of "Canale 5" TV network. The P2 lodge was dissolved by the Italian parliament in December 1981 and a law was passed declaring similar organizations illegal, but no specific crimes were alleged to individual members of P2. Berlusconi later (1989) sued for libel three journalists who had written an article hinting at his involvement in financial crimes and in this occasion he declared in court that he had joined the P2 lodge "only a very short time before the scandal broke" and "he had not even paid the entry fee". Such statements, however, conflicted with the findings of the parliamentary commission appointed to investigate the lodge's activity, with material evidence, and even with previous testimony of Berlusconi, all of which showing that he had actually been a member of P2 since 1978 and had indeed paid a 100,000 Italian liras entry fee. Because of this a court of appeal condemned him for perjury in 1990, but the crime was extinguished by the previous 1989 amnesty so he was never actually jailed.

[edit] Entrepreneurial career, Bettino Craxi & Mafia

Berlusconi's career as an entrepreneur is also often questioned by his detractors. The allegations made against him generally include suspicions about the extremely fast increase of his activity as a construction entrepreneur in years 1961-63, hinting at the possibility that in those years he received money from unknown and possibly illegal sources. These accusations are regarded by Berlusconi and his supporters as empty slander, trying to undermine Berlusconi's reputation of a self-made man. Frequently cited by opponents are also events dating to the 1980s, including supposed "favor exchanges" between Berlusconi and the former prime minister Bettino Craxi, indicted in 1990-91 for various corruption charges; and even possible connections to the Italian Mafia, the latter accusations arising mostly from the above mentioned hiring of Vittorio Mangano4. Berlusconi acknowledges a personal friendship only to Craxi, and of course denies any ties to the Mafia. Heated debate on this issue was recently (2004) triggered again when Marcello Dell'Utri, the manager (later managing director) of Berlusconi's publishing company Publitalia 80 and a Forza Italia senator and long time friend of Berlusconi, was sentenced to 9 years by the Palermo court on charge of "external association to the Mafia" 5, a sentence on which Berlusconi refused to comment.

In 1996, the Mafia pentito (turncoat) Salvatore Cancemi declared that Berlusconi and Dell'Utri were in direct contact with Riina. After a two-year investigation, magistrates closed the inquiry without charges. They did not find evidence to corroborate Cancemi’s allegations. Similarly, a two-year investigation, also launched on evidence from Cancemi, into Berlusconi’s alleged association with the Mafia was closed in 1996.<ref name="Berlusconi1">An Italian Story, The Economist, April 26, 2001</ref> Cancemi disclosed that Fininvest, through Marcello Dell'Utri and mafioso Vittorio Mangano, had paid Cosa Nostra 200 million lire (100 000 euro) annually. The alleged contacts, according to Cancemi, were to lead to legislation favourable to Cosa Nostra, in particular the harsh 41-bis prison regime. The underlying premise was that Cosa Nostra would support Berlusconi's Forza Italia party in return for political favours.<ref name="Berlusconi2">Berlusconi friend on trial for 'aiding Mafia', The Guardian, May 10, 2001</ref>

On some occasions, which raised a strong upheaval in the Italian political opposition, laws passed by the Berlusconi administration have effectively delayed ongoing trials on him, allowing the statute of limitations to expire, or stopped them entirely. Relevant examples are the law reducing punishment for all cases of false accounting; the new law on international rogatories, which made his Swiss bank records unusable in court against him 6; the law on legitimate suspicion, which allowed defendants to request their cases to be moved to another court if they believe that the local judges are biased against them 7,8; and most importantly the lodo Maccanico law, passed in June 2003, which granted the highest five state officers, including the Prime Minister, immunity from prosecution while in office2. This law froze Berlusconi's position in the SME-Ariosto trial in which he was accused of having corrupted judges in previous legal rulings regarding his participation in the public auction of the state-owned food company SME in the 1980s. However, the trial was not frozen for other defendants, and the former lawyer of Berlusconi's main firm (Fininvest) and former Italian defence minister, Cesare Previti, was sentenced to 5 years although the crime was reduced from corruption of judges to simple corruption 9,10. In January 2004 the Lodo Maccanico was nullified by the Constitutional court as it was ruled to be in conflict with the Italian constitution. Subsequently Berlusconi has declared his intent to re-introduce the law using the correct procedure for constitutional modification. Because of these legislative acts, political opponents accuse Berlusconi of passing ad personam laws, to protect himself from legal charges; Berlusconi and his allies, on the other hand, maintain that such laws are consistent with everyone's right to a rapid and just trial, and with the principle of presumption of innocence (garantismo); furthermore, they claim that Berlusconi is subject to a judiciary persecution, a political witch hunt orchestrated by politicized (left-wing) judges 11.

For such reasons, Berlusconi and his government have an ongoing quarrel with the Italian judiciary, which reached its peak in 2003 when Berlusconi commented to a foreign journalist that judges are "mentally disturbed" and "anthropologically different from the rest of the human race", remarks that he later claimed he meant to be directed to specific judges only, and of a humorous nature12. More seriously, the Berlusconi administration has long been planning a judiciary reform intended to limit the arbitrariness allowed to the judges in their decisions (for example by introducing civil liability on the consequences of their sentences), but which, according to its critics, will instead limit the magistrature's independence, by de facto subjecting the judiciary to the executive's control. This reform has met almost unanimous dissent from the Italian judges 13,14 and, after three years of debate and struggle, was passed by the Italian parliament in December 2004, but was immediately vetoed by the Italian President, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi 15, who said some of the passed laws were "clearly unconstitutional". Presently (February 2005) the law is in process of being re-examined by the parliament, taking into account the President's objections on its constitutionality.

Berlusconi has also been indicted in Spain for charges of tax fraud and violation of anti-trust laws regarding the private TV network Telecinco, but his status as a member of the European Parliament allowed him to gain immunity from prosecution 16.

[edit] "Jowellgate" in the UK

Berlusconi describes the work of prosecutors pursuing him and his associates as a politically-motivated vendetta and attributes their current attentions to the imminent Italian elections. Over the years, there have been many such accusations but none seem to have made a lasting mark on him. Consequently, the link between him and the difficulties of UK Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, has attracted less media attention in Italy than in the UK, where the media has sensed a whiff of something scandalous (or at least hypocritical and embarrassing) for the government. David Mills, lawyer husband of the British cabinet minister in the Blair government, had acted for Berlusconi in the early 1990s and has been accused by Italian prosecutors of money laundering and of accepting a gift from Berlusconi in return for friendly evidence given as a prosecution witness against Berlusconi. However, Mills has asserted that the money in question did not come from Berlusconi but from another client. No formal indictment has yet been issued but on March 10, 2006 it was reported that prosecuting magistrates in Italy has submitted evidence to a judge, seeking an indictment for bribery against Berlusconi and Mills 27: all parties vehemently deny wrong-doing and Berlusconi commented that the timing showed that the prosecution is political. Berlusconi also denies having met Mills. The British media have been having an investigative field-day but have not so-far unearthed anything that warrants Ms. Jowell's resignation nor that proves guilt of Mills, Berlusconi or their intermediaries. Mills separated from his wife in the face of a drip-feeding of accusations aired in the British press.

[edit] Trials

[edit] Personality

Berlusconi is admired by some Italians for his tremendous success as a businessman; they praise what they consider his innovative ideas and entrepreneurial spirit. His detractors, however, point out that he tends to centralize power upon his person, and this is reflected in the organization of the Forza Italia party. Furthermore, critics often attribute a substantial part of his financial successes to his closeness to politicians that have been later exposed as corrupt (as Bettino Craxi) or even contiguous to the Mafia. Another criticism voiced is that he over-reacts to attacks from political opponents. Just about everyone agrees that he cares a great deal about his appearance; in January, 2004, after intense speculation in the media, he admitted he had a facelift [22] and photos of him wearring a bandana while hosting a holidaying Tony Blair aroused interest in hair transplants which he has been known to recommend for any balding man who can afford it and likes to look his best. The publicity did not seem to bother him.

It is known that Silvio Berlusconi has a very high opinion of himself, at times comparing himself to Napoleon [23], Churchill [24] and Jesus Christ [25]. Berlusconi is evidently a media-savvy politician with a good feel for what goes down well in Italy. He always tries to maintain a gentle, agreeable character with whomever he is talking to. His opponents perceive this as hypocrisy, since he can also deliver strong speeches that at times border on hate, especially when talking about communists, but also whenever he feels menaced by journalists' questions. He is known to tell jokes to create a relaxed atmosphere, and trying to make sure everybody enjoys himself in his presence. He is especially careful about talking in intelligible Italian, though with a light Milanese accent, while some politicians prior to 1992 talked an incomprehensible jargon.

[edit] References

<references />

  1. Italy immunity law provokes fury, BBC news, 25 June 2003, Retrieved 2004/12/24
  2. Berlusconi in EU 'Nazi' slur, BBC news, 2 July 2003, Retrieved 2004/12/24
  3. Berlusconi accused of Mafia links, BBC news, 8 January 2003, Retrieved 2005/1/22
  4. Italy's left attacks Berlusconi, BBC news, 11 December 2004, Retrieved 2005/1/22
  5. Berlusconi plans to get off the hook, The Observer, 7 October 2001, Retrieved 2005/2/1
  6. Italian Senate passes disputed bill, BBC News, 2 August 2002, Retrieved 2005/2/1
  7. Berlusconi scores double victory, BBC News, 5 November 2002, Retrieved 2005/2/1
  8. Berlusconi ally jailed for bribery, BBC News, 29 April 2003, Retrieved 2005/2/1
  9. Berlusconi ally partially cleared, BBC News, 22 November 2003, Retrieved 2005/2/1
  10. Berlusconi warns 'subversive' judges, BBC News, 8 August 2003, Retrieved 2005/2/1
  11. Berlusconi stuns Italian judges, BBC News, 5 September 2003, Retrieved 2005/2/1
  12. Italian judges fight reform, BBC News, 20 June 2002, Retrieved 2005/2/1
  13. Italian magistrates go on strike, BBC News, 25 May 2004, Retrieved 2005/2/1
  14. Italian president blocks reforms, BBC News, 16 December 2004, Retrieved 2005/2/1
  15. Q&A: Berlusconi's battle with the courts, BBC News, 24 January 2002, Retrieved 2005/2/1
  16. Italian premier's brother wants plea bargain in corruption case, Financial Times, 22 April 2002, Retrieved 2005/2/1, reported on the la Margherita (the Daisy) opposition party website.
  17. New storm over Berlusconi 'remarks', BBC News, 11 September 2003, Retrieved 2005/2/2
  18. Jewish communities split over Berlusconi, BBC News, 26 September 2003, Retrieved 2005/2/2
  19. Berlusconi's life: cronology, paper spread July 2 2003 among the European parliamentarians by member Gianni Vattimo, written by journalists Marco Travaglio and Peter Gomez.
  20. Berlusconi and his mysteries, paper spread July 2 2003 among the European parliamentarians by member Gianni Vattimo, written by journalists Marco Travaglio and Peter Gomez.
  21. Banca Rasini and money laundering.
  22. (Italian) Berlusconi bankruptcy risks and legal investigation before entering politics: Mani pulite. La vera storia. Da Mario Chiesa a Silvio Berlusconi (Gianni Barbacetto, Peter Gomez and Marco Travaglio, 2002, Editori Riuniti, ISBN 88-359-5241-7 ), p. 138-139.
  23. (Italian) L'amico degli amici. (Marco Travaglio and Peter Gomez, 2005, BUR Biblioteca Universale Rizzoli, ISBN 88-17-00707-2 ).
    • References about Mangano and Berlusconi: p. XIII-XIX, 35-124, 209-225, 300-311, 699-703
  24. (Italian) Article Forza Bahamas, in the column Bananas by Marco Travaglio (April 17 2005, L'Unità). This article has been also published in book Berluscomiche (Marco Travaglio, 2005, Garzanti Libri, ISBN 88-11-59765-X ), pages 431-433. It can be read at these links: [28] [29]
  25. (Italian) Inciucio. (Peter Gomez and Marco Travaglio, 2005, BUR Biblioteca Universale Rizzoli, ISBN 88-17-01020-0 ).
  26. Italy bid for PM corruption trial, BBC News, 10 March 2006
  27. Berlusconi hands in resignation, BBC News, 2 May 2006

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Preceded by:
Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
Prime Minister of Italy
1994–1995
Succeeded by:
Lamberto Dini
Preceded by:
Giuliano Amato
Prime Minister of Italy
2001-2006
Succeeded by:
Romano Prodi
Preceded by:
Renato Ruggiero
Minister of Foreign Affairs
2002
Succeeded by:
Franco Frattini
Preceded by:
Francesco Storace
Minister of Health
2006
Succeeded by:
Livia Turco
Preceded by:
Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
Chair of the G8
1994
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Jean Chrétien
Preceded by:
Giuliano Amato
Chair of the G8
2001
Succeeded by:
Jean Chrétien
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ar:سيلفيو برلسكوني

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Silvio Berlusconi

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