Silvio Berlusconi, 'Il Cavaliere' who shaped Italian politics for decades, dies aged 86

The man behind countless sex and love scandals, former owner of AC Milan, owner of the Mediaset group and three times prime minister, he coined the slogan “communism or freedom.”

Silvio Berlusconi was admitted to hospital last Friday due to a worsening of the leukemia he had been suffering from for several years. He had been in and out of the hospital many times, but this time the great champion of Italian politics, and also the great survivor, lost the most important battle. He was 86 years old. He was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of San Raffaele Hospital on Friday. Since 2019, when he went to the hospital for an intestinal obstruction, his hospital visits have been frequent, whether it was for COVID or cardiovascular problems treated in Monaco in 2021. In 2022, he was treated for a urinary tract infection and, since then, he has been admitted on other occasions supposedly for medical check-ups.

He was one of the most influential figures in Italian politics, and from a very young age he knew that to achieve power he had to control the many channels of communication and entertainment. He knew that this would bring him closer to the most important Italian classes, which almost always hold the key to power in a rich industrialized country like Italy. He always sold the idea of the self-made businessman capable of bringing his formula to the country as a whole.

He was convicted of tax fraud, a sentence that resulted in political disqualification and marked the beginning of his decline. Because of his charm, and perhaps because he came to believe that he was immortal, as his doctor said, he was incapable of naming a successor in the party, Forza Italia. The party is doomed to die out with him, a party which influenced political transformations such as the recent rise of Mario Draghi, to the presidency of the Italian Council of Ministers and its downfall. He was the inventor of the slogan that has become so popular in Spain, “Communism or freedom.”


"Silvio Berlusconi was above all a fighter," said Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in a video broadcast on social media. She also assured that "he was a man who was not afraid to stand up for his convictions" and one of the most influential people in the history of the country. "With him, Italy learned that no limits should be imposed on it, that it should never give up," she added. "Farewell, Silvio."

AC Milan, the Italian club where Berlusconi made history, also took to Twitter to bid farewell to its former president. In a series of tweets, which included a video with highlights of his career, the soccer team's official account called him "unforgettable" and recalled one of his iconic phrases: "Tomorrow, we will dream of new ambitions, create new challenges, and seek new victories. Which will represent the good, the strong, and the true that lies inside us, in all of us who shared this adventure of binding our lives to a dream called Milan."

Inter, the other Milanese club and AC's classic rival, also dedicated a few words to Berlusconi: "He left an indelible mark on the history of our country. The matches between Inter and his AC Milan side saw the city of Milano become the epicentre of the footballing world."