Silvio Berlusconi’s lasting legacy


The former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, who recently passed away, is portrayed in the media as a colorful, controversial politician who was almost a kind of caricature of an Italian. Full of bravado and self-esteem, set on display and glamor and with a penchant for beautiful women, wild parties, fast cars and football.

In his long and colorful life, it was all present, of course. Comparable to Donald Trump, there was almost no one who felt neutral about him: as many as hated him abysmally, so many revered him again and almost idolized him in his time. He is indeed dead as a politician, even a minister in the government, but his heyday has been a few years ago and therefore it is appropriate to look back a little longer than the frivolous parties and “Ruby-gate” with which he glorifies himself. infected.

Berlusconi’s lasting legacy is that he paved the way for a new political dispensation, not only in Italy, but in the entire West long before the word populism was on everyone’s lips, and long before people like Trump appeared. made to turn politics around as outsiders.

Berlusconi appeared on the radar in the early 1990s, on the transition from the first to the second Italian Republic. It was the time when the old Italian political system, as one of the first in the West, breathed its last. The block from centre-right (Christian Democrats) to left (Communists), which as self-proclaimed anti-Fascist parties had the right to stand at the bottom of the constitution and which explicitly supported the neo-Fascist MSI (Movimiento Sociale Italiano; Italian Social Movement) has imploded after a series of revelations about links with the Mafia.

The famous political system where the parties divided the power, positions and money among themselves after mock political battles before the elections was over overnight. In particular, the Christian Democrats, for most of the post-war period the defining party in Italy, simply ceased to exist and split into splinter groups, which later joined other groups.

The left suffered less damage and formed from the moderate part of the Communist Party and other center-left splinter groups the Democratic Party, which became the dominant force. New parties that emerged were the right-wing regional party Lega Nordlater renamed to Lega. The center-right field was left wide open by the Christian Democrats’ disappearance.

In 1994, Silvio Berlusconi entered the scene as the man of the moment. As a wealthy media entrepreneur, he had the means, the charisma and the political independence to overnight a powerful centre-right party, Forza Italia (FI; Italy Forward), to form. It was no longer the old political party setup with endless meetings, minutes and statutes, but was modeled on the idea of ​​a club.

Already shortly after its foundation, Forza Italia in the election of 1994 became the largest party and Berlusconi formed a government for the first time only from right-wing parties. Outside for FI was also Lega Nord and the previously isolated MSI part of the government. The three grew closer and closer to each other in the course of time and Berlusconi’s influence had moderate effects. Lega Nord no longer wanted to secede the north of the country, and MSI distanced itself from fascism and changed its name to Alleanza Nazionalein which the current prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, began her career.

Although the government also only ruled for two years and was replaced by the left-wing bloc that had also formed in the meantime, Berlusconi later became prime minister several times and was the dominant political figure in Italy for about 20 years. Despite numerous re-nominations and reshuffles, the division of Italy into two blocs, left and right of center, and especially the consolidation and success of the right-wing bloc, is Berlusconi’s legacy.