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Silvio Berlusconi dies

by editor

ROME — Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister, has died aged 86, his office confirmed.

Berlusconi, who was a senator and leader of the right-wing Forza Italia party — a junior partner in Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s coalition government — was admitted to a Milan hospital last week.

A billionaire media and property tycoon-turned-politician, Berlusconi rose to the top of Italian politics in the 1990s, leading the country for close to a decade during three terms as prime minister.

In recent years, however, his political career was tarnished by a series of scandals, reducing his profile and influence.

Italy’s latest general election, which saw his Forza Italia party join Meloni’s governing coalition, marked Berlusconi’s return to the domestic limelight — albeit in a diminished role.

Italian media on Monday morning reported that Berlusconi had died and a spokesperson for his office confirmed the news.

Colleagues and opponents from Italian politics paid tribute to the former premier. Matteo Salvini, Italy’s current interior minister, said Berlusconi was “a great man and a great Italian.”

Former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said on Twitter: “Silvio Berlusconi made history in this country. Many loved him, many hated him: everyone today must recognize that his impact on political but also economic, sporting and television life was unprecedented … In these hours I carry with me the memories of our meetings, of the many councils, of our agreements, of our clashes. But above all of a phone call in which Silvio, not the President, made me shed a tear when talking about my mother.”

Former prime minister Romano Prodi said Berlusconi “exerted a great influence on the life of our country, affecting not only the institutions, but also the lives of all its people. In our long political confrontation, we have represented different and opposing worlds, but our rivalry never transcended into feelings of enmity on a personal level, maintaining mutual respect.”

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