Ciao Ciao, Silvio! Berlusconi’s Seediest Moments

Italians and Italophiles the world over breathed a sigh of relief last week, when Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi finally declared that he would resign to focus on running his media empire. Berlusconi, even when out of office, has effectively been the focus of Italian politics since his first brief stint as PM in 1994. Legal troubles have dogged him since his earliest days in politics, but in recent months a combination of accusations of financial corruption and anger over his management of Europe’s debt crisis have driven his popularity to all-time lows. Now that he’s done, the Daily Lounge looks back at some of the seediest moments of ‘Il Cavaliere’:

Bribery of David Mills. David Mills was the husband of British cabinet member Tessa Jowell. He was also found guilty of accepting a bribe from Berlusconi, who employed Mills as his lawyer and apparently paid him to offer favorable testimony in one of Berlusconi’s trials. Allegedly, Berlusconi gave Mills the equivalent of $600,000 to give false testimony about the Italian premier’s business dealings. Unfortunately, the Italian justice system is so convoluted that neither Mills or Berlusconi is likely to face any jail time.

Mediaset. One of the issues that Mills would have had to speak about is Berlusconi’s media empire Mediaset, Italy’s second-largest broadcast distributor. Berlusconi is widely held to have used his time as Prime Minister to undermine the state media network, Radiotelevisionie Italiana, better known as the RAI, in order to drive more viewers — and therefore more profits — to his own network. Beyond that, he is also known to have created the Mediaset empire illegally in the first place: at the time that his channels began broadcasting, it was illegal for national networks to exist outside the state-run one.

Ruby and the Rest. Berlusconi, as we’ve previous written, is more or less a walking sex scandal. The former Prime Minister is known to have thrown lascivious ‘bunga bunga’ parties, presumably orgies, at his residence (‘just dancing,’ claims the septuagenarian ladies’ man). He’s also currently embroiled in an ongoing scandal involving accusations of having solicited an underage prostitute, the Moroccan belly dancer Karima el Mahroug. El Mahroug is more conventionally known in Italy as ‘Ruby Rubacuore,’ or ‘Ruby Heart-Stealer.’ It bears repeating, meanwhile, that Berlusconi declares that his ‘passion for women is better than being gay.’

This man, ladies and gentlemen, was Italy’s longest-ever serving Prime Minister. It’s a sad day to be Italian when your most competent politician is also your nation’s biggest crook. Here’s looking at you, Dick.

[Pic via Flickr - Alessio85]

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