Silvio Berlusconi

From dKosopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Silvio Berlusconi is a media baron who is again serving as the Italian Prime Minister. He is known, among other things, for being one of the first Prime Ministers to break with post-war political tradition and allow his own new center-right party Forza Italia! to form a electoral coalition with a neo-fascist party, the National Alliance, in parliamentary elections in southern Italy in 1994. Preposterously, Forza Italia! (Go, Italy!) is named for the cheer of the soccer team owned by Berlusconi.

Contents

Biography

Silvio Berlusconi was born Sept. 29, 1936 in Milan, the son a bank employee who spent the last half of the war in Switzerland to avoid labor conscription by the Germans. Berlusconi studued law in university. Although Berlusconi somehow failed to perform the military service compulsory for all Italian men, his government would support the Republican War in Iraq by committing 3000 Italian troops to the occupation. Twice married, the second time in 1990 to a Bolognese actress named Veronica Lario, after having had three children with her. Berlusconi has had fewer plastic surgeries than Michael Jackson.

Forbes has calculated his wealth at 7.2 billion in 2002, and that after he lost a lot when the Italian stock market bubble burst, making him the richest man in the country, the 35th richest man in the world (richer than Rupert Murdoch) and one of only three Italians on the list of world’s 100 richest. The other two Italians are Leonardo Del Vecchio (Luxottica eye-ware) Luciano Benetton (clothing).

Berlusconi makes his first fortune as a property developer of apartment blocs around Milan using non-union southern labor for the construction and capital from a Lugano, Switzerland based corporation whose owners remain unknown. Some suspect that the source of the money may have been "laundered" Mafia money. Lugano is just north of Italian-Swiss border in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland and is home to many of the banks that offer those wonderful Swiss secret bank accounts. With a population of 30,000 it has 400 banks and trust companies! One estimate is that Italians have an estimated 500 billion Euros in overseas accounts, much of it believed to ne in Lugano.

Berlusconi later plans and builds Milano 2 as a futuristic high security garden city of apartment blocs with green space and shops; few of the small businesses in the shops survived and the project is looking past its prime. Berlusconi became a media tycoon through the development of cable television. With Milano 2 Berlusconi wanted to avoid the unaesthetic appearance of a metal forest of television antennas characteristic of Italian cities at the time so he installs cable television in all apartments. With a cable company he then goes on to offer content in 1976 via his own Telemilano and then begins local transmitting beyond the Milano 2 project around Milan in 1978, becoming one of the first private competitors to RAI and now the overwhelmingly dominant private television broadcaster. The company is later renamed Canale 5 in 1980. The state owned RAI couldn’t compete because it’s three channels were divided up as patronage among the political parties, the Christian Democrats, Socialists and the Communists, and the content was often indifferent. The corrupt head of the Socialist party, Bettino Craxi, helped Canale 5 break the RAI monopoly and shake free of legal restrictions on broadcasting around Italy.

Berlusconi then goes on to become a insurance tycoon, with Mediolanum Assicurazioni operating all over Europe.

Berlusconi buys a Milan football club called AC Milan in 1985, which begans to win after investing in new talent.

In 1991 Berlusconi buys a major publishing house, Arnoldo Mondadori, which has 40% of all magazine sales in Italy.

Berlusoni was successful in rising from lower middle class obscurity to immense wealth because of his drive and his connections, which appear connected with the P2 Lodge that I told you about two weeks ago. Berlusconi’s name was on the membership rolls since 1978, three years before the scandal broke.

Berlusconi entered electoral politics in 1994 after the collapse of the two parties whose leaders he had used to make and protect his fortunes: Socialists and Christian Democrats. The Tangentopoli or "Bribesville" wiped out much of the corrupt political class he found so useful so he orders the appropriate market research to determine what kind of Berlusconi friendly political party would be successful in the Italian political market. He sees politics the way a modern corporate entrepreneur sees politics. Many middle class Italians want a center-right party that appears to be honest.

He uses his ownership of news & entertainment media to promote the new party he calls Forza Italia! (Go Italy!). Party leaders are some 60 middle managers from Publitalia, his advertising firm. They go out and recruit the parliamentary candidates for the new party much as they would go out and recruit buyers for advertising space. Forza Italia! clubs are opened all over the country. They mail a copy of his autobiography free to every household in the country.

The Conservative-Populist-Fascist Axis

The major two party coalition partners were the Lega Nord or "Northern League" in the north of Italy and the Alleanza Nazionale or "National Alliance" in the south of Italy. The Lega Nord is an xenophobic, possibly racist, anti-southern protest (denouncing Roma Ladrona or thieving Rome) and devolutionist party led by Umberto Bossi that started out as the Lombard League and then grew. The neo-fascist Alleanza Nazionale is the renamed Italian Social Movement led by Gianfranco Fini, a man who claimed that Benito Mussolini was the greatest statesman of the 20th century. Together the 3 big parties formed Polo della Liberta or "Freedom Axis".

Berlusconi’s party coalition won 366 of 630 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 156 of 315 seats in the Senate, and formed the next coalition government. Within a few weeks the Justice Minister, Alfredo Biondi issued what was called the salvaladri (save the thieves) decree that required that all persons be allowed to check whether they were under official investigation for white collar crime. Major scandal. Some middle class Italians woke up to the fact that appearing to be honest was not the same as being honest. Others got exactly what they wanted with the mere appearance. That decree was eventually withdrawn and the coalition lost the next election.

The center left Olive Tree Alliance won the next general election and governed through European Monetary Union period when reduced deficits and stable currencies were required for member states.

Then Berlusconi, Bossi and Fini won again in the 2001 general election as members of the Casa delle Liberta (someone must have told them that using the word “Axis” with a neo-fascist coalition partner brings up unpleasant memories) in a campaign focused on crime and illegal immigration. The government didn’t do much about either except posture but it did radically reduce or eliminate taxes on the rich and spend enormous amounts on public works. Return to bigger deficits.

Foot in Mouth Disease

Prime Minister Berlusconi also serves as the EU President in 2003. His most memorable decision was to refuse to apologize after saying that Martin Schulz, a Social-Democratic European Parliamentarian from Germany looked like a concentration camp guard to him. The German government demanded an apology and when it wasn’t given Gerhard Shroeder cancelled his vacation in Italy.

Censorship

When he became Prime Minister in 2001 Berlusconi went on the attack against RAI whenever its news broadcasts reported anything critical of his behavior either as a business executive or as a politician. Berlusconi sent RAI management messages telling them to end all criticism of him in the news and so they as punishment declined to renew the contracts of the journalists who were critical of Berlusconi. He also replaced members of the RAI Board who weren’t servile enough. That tended to chill free press in Italy. In 2002 the international journalists watchdog group Reporters Without Borders gave Italy a markedly lower score on press freedom than the other members of the EU, and lower than some countries like Costa Rica and Benin.

Temper Tantrums

During the six week 2006 general election campaign media magnate Berlusconi was repeatedly reduced to emotional outbursts by the news media. Appearing increasingly rattled, he stormed out of one TV interview and used vulgar language in public to describe the political opposition.

Judicial Tampering

In 2001 Berlusconi’s coalition government also changed the law on false accounting to reduce possible punishments & eliminated wiretaps for white collar crime generally. Then they went after the investigating magistrates to prevent them from doing any more damage to the finely honed system of political corruption. To block further prosections or at least make them more difficult they passed legislation requiring that all evidence of financial dealings admitted in Italian court take the form of officially stamped paper, which made evidence in the form of computer files from Switzerland inadmissible.

Berlusconi is something of a "strict constructionist, Italian style." He has said the following about the power of judges: “In a Liberal democracy, the people and their representatives govern, not those who have succeeded in competitive examinations and put on robes. Their function is to apply the law.” After saying he complained that left-wing judges were persecuting him. Quod licet jovi non licet bovi. Magistrates daring to investigate Berlusconi or his business associates were labeled toga rossa or Red Robes (Communist Judges).

Mergalomania

During the 2006 election campaign Berlusconi compared himself, variously, to Jesus Christ, Napoleon Bonaparte and Winston Churchill. Berlusoni saw himself as Jesus because he felt persecuted, Napoleon because of his immense accomplishments, and Churchill because he was saving Italy from the communists as Churchill supposedly saved Britain from the Nazis. Or these delusions of historical grandeur a function of simply great wealth or the result of an ignorant misreading political history?

Political Project

According to Paul Ginsborg, Silvio Berlusconi's political appeals may be rhetorically populist but the reality is proundly patrimonial in nature (Pp. 116-122). Authority is personal, based upon reciprocity in favors and insistence upon absolute loyalty from subordinates to superiors.

Political Future

Despite criticism and declining popularity, Berlisconi continues to insist that he intends to stand for election in the upcoming 2006 election. In an August 17, 2005 interview published in the newspaper "La Stampa" he referred to himself in the second person stating, "There is only one person who is able to hold the coalition together, and that person is Silvio Berlusconi." "I will therefore be the candidate in 2006. End of story."

In late December 2005 Italian investigators launched yet another corruption investigation of Berlusconi, this time in regards to $600,000 that may have been paid to David Mills to lie on Berlusconi's behalf. Mills testified in three of Berluconi's trials.

His political future arrived in the form of the April 9, 2006 general elction.

Some of Berlusconi's Businesses

  • Fininvest (parent company)
  • Canale 5 (television broadcasting)
  • Mediolanum Assicurazioni (insurance)
  • Arnaldo Mondadori (book and magazine publishing)
  • Programma Italia (financial services)
  • Publitalia (advertizing)

Quotes

  • Elections 2008: A few days before the elections, Berlusconi remembers one of his previous plans: submit judges at regular times to psychiatric examinations.

Under the previous government of Berlusconi, there were plans to change the juridical system radically and the above suggestion was one of the hot topics.

  • Elections 2008: Silvio Berlusconi says that the journalist Enzo biagi left the RAI out of free will

and that he did it for the money. The late Enzo Biagi was a famous and everywhere respected journalist. Enzo Biagi was one of the journalists that had to leave the RAI in 2002 after the so-called ‘Bulgarian diktat’ of Silvio Berlusconi. He was accused by Berlusconi to make a criminal use of television.

  • Elections 2008: Berlusconi confirms the message of Senator Dell'Utri about the live sentenced maffia

member "Vittorio Mangano". Dell’Utri is Berlusconi's right hand and co founder of Forza Italia and has been convicted for numerous crimes and links to the maffia. He defines Mangano a ‘real’ hero. Vittorio worked several years for Berlusconi as ‘horsekeeper’ at his villa(although it seems that there were no horses…) This man has been defined by the judge Paulo Borsellino as the maffia link to North Italy . "Borsellino" died two months after this statement in one of Italies most brutal bomb attacks. Dell’Utri says literally that ‘Mangano was a hero because he never confessed under pressure compromising things about Berlusconi or Dell’Utri ’. Berlusconi confirms this the following day.(Video on YouTube)

  • Elections 2008: Silvio Berlusconi says that, in case of a possible victory, the as neutral regarded president Napolitano will have to make place for somebody of his coalition.
  • Elections 2008: Silvio Berlusconi gets a lot of critics because the business man and newspaper owner Ciarrapico , who is part of Berlusconi’s party, is a convinced fascist and brings until now very proudly the fascist greetings.

Guiseppe Ciarrapico is not only an editor of very dubious press releases but has been convicted for numerous crimes. Silvio Berlusconi says that the fascist simpaties of Ciarrapico are details and that this man is usefull to his party because he owns journals and magazines.

  • Elections 2008:Silvio Berlusconi assures a few weeks before the elections that there is no place in his coalition for persons with a criminal past or with mafia connections(an exception is made for political crimes)

Guiseppe Ciarrapico, as well as Marcello Dell’Utri, and many others with a criminal past and accused of mafia connections are now senators in the Italian parliament…

  • More Quotes from Silvio Berlusconi one week before the 2008 elections

Silvio Berlusconi: the 2008 elections campaign

References

  • Paul Gainsborg. 2004. Silvio Berlusconi: Television, Power and Patrimony. London: Verso. ISBN 1844670007.
  • David Lane. 2004. Berlusconi's Shadow: Crime, Justice and the Pursuit of Power. London: Penguin. ISBN 0141017708.
  • n.a. "Berlusconi Rebuffs Leadership Challenge, Confirms 2006 Election Run," Agence France Presse. August 17, 2005.
  • Ian Fisher. "Another Investigation of Berlusconi Draws Charges of Politicking." The New York Times. December 29, 2005. A5.
  • Ian Fisher. "Berlusconi Tries On Many Faces for Voters." The New York Times. Februarty 14, 2006. P. A8.
  • n.a. "Italy Parties In Final Poll Push." BBC News. April 7, 2006.

External links

Personal tools