MONROVIA: The President of Liberia, George Manneh Weah, has joined global leaders to send condolences to the government and people of Italy following the death of former Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.
On Monday morning, it was announced that Silvio Berlusconi passed away after a brief battle with illness (Leukemia). He was 86 years of age.
Sending his message of condolence on Monday, June 12, 2023, the Liberian leader expressed profound sadness at the passing of the former Italian Prime Minister.
In an Executive Mansion’s release, the President said Berlusconi was one of his strong supporters when he first joined Italian soccer Club AC Milan, for which Berlusconi served as President at the time.
The former PM was also one of the early backers of President Weah’s quest for the Liberian Presidency in 2005, the Executive mansion said.
President Weah described Berlusconi as a strong mentor whose counsel proved very useful throughout his career.
Silvio Berlusconi was a businessman and politician who served as Prime Minister of Italy several times during his political career, including from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006 and 2008 to 2011.
The Liberian Chief Executive said Berlusconi will be remembered as a towering figure in Italian politics due to his great communications skills and charisma.
The Liberian Leader has said thoughts of the former PM will remain indelibly etched on his memory because of the nudge he gave to the careers of so many young African footballers, including him.
The President has extended his deepest sympathy to AC Milan, the government and people of Italy, and to the Berlusconi family.
However, the former Italian Prime Minister was controversial as reports suggest that he was a right-wing leader, born in Milan on September 29, 1936, was widely known for his financial and other scandals, but also transformed Italian politics. His dominance over the electoral sphere influenced the views of a generation of Italians.
The reports added that he was often compared with former US President, Donald Trump; Berlusconi made his first fortune in real estate and construction, then, slowly expanded, notably, to the world of mass media and football.
Between the late 1970s and 1980s, he built a media empire. It included a publishing house and popular cable TV network, Mediaset, which was recognized as the biggest competitor to Italy’s state-owned television.
In 1986, he bought the popular AC Milan football team, saving it from certain bankruptcy. It was not until 1994, however, that “the Knight” – Berlusconi’s popular nickname, entered the realm of Italian politics.
With the foundation of a new right-wing party, Forza Italia (Go Italy), a new era of Italian politics began, and Berlusconi secured his first election as Prime Minister that same year.
“He became the symbol of a new historical phase for Italy, where politics are no longer shaped by parties, but by single, strong characters,” said Giovanni Orsina, director of Luiss School of Government in Rome.
“Berlusconi is a product of Italian commercial TV’s Golden Age.” League leader Matteo Salvini, Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi and Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni speak at the closing electoral campaign rally of the center-right coalition.
Although Berlusconi’s first mandate only lasted a year, as he was accused of fraud and criticised for his control of Italian media, he maintained his political power.
His promises of economic growth attracted new voters, which led him to win elections again in 2001 and 2008.
He remained in power until the end of 2011, when he stepped down after losing Parliament’s trust following a highly-publicized sex scandal.
After entering politics, Berlusconi was regular fodder for Italy’s tabloids reporting on his more than 20 trials for abuse of power, financial fraud and rumors about lewd parties at his private villa just outside Milan.
The most closely followed case dates back to February 2011, when he was accused of soliciting sex from a 17-year-old Egyptian sex worker.
He was heavily criticised for backing a law that allowed politicians to escape trials while in office.
The episode damaged Berlusconi’s popularity, and he was later replaced by a series of temporary technocratic governments.
“There have been lots of concerns about foreign media coverage depicting our politicians as clowns. But the truth is that we built this scenario ourselves,” Orsina said.
“Foreign media based their reports on our own coverage, which focused on trivial aspects and overlooked the real political complexities.”
According to Francesco Galietti, an Italian political analyst, Berlusconi should also be remembered for his ability to manage difficult relations, especially in the early 2000s.