Silvio Berlusconi, the scandal-ridden former Prime Minister of Italy died on Monday, according to his television network, Mediaset.
The media tycoon had led three governments in Italy between 1994 and 2011, and had been one of Italy’s most colorful politicians. His political career had been peppered with sex scandals, which became infamous for what were called “Bunga Bunga” parties at his villa near Milan after a 17-year-old Moroccan girl who’d been arrested told police she received $10,000 from Berlusconi at these events.
Berlusconi’s center-right Forza Italia political party was a junior partner in the current Prime Minister Georgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party—the most far-right to lead the country since World War II.
However, Berlusconi’s friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin put him at odds with Meloni, who is a staunch supporter of Ukraine.
Nevertheless, Meloni remembered Berlusconi fondly on Italian TV Monday, calling him “above all…a fighter.”
“He was a man who had never been afraid to defend his beliefs. And it was exactly that courage and determination that made him one of the most influential men in the history of Italy,” Meloni said.
Former Italian Premier Matteo Renzi said on Twitter, “Silvio Berlusconi made history in this country. Many loved him, many hated him. All must recognize that his impact on political life, but also economics, sports and television, has been without precedence.”
Berlusconi was admitted to the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan on Friday. It was his second hospitalization in months for treatment of chronic leukemia. He also suffered over the years from heart ailments, prostate cancer and was hospitalized with Covid in 2020. He was 86 years old.