Italy’s oligarch: Berlusconi’s death marks the end of an era

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Abroad, Silvio Berlusconi was synonymous with sex parties. But to his loyal base he remained the golden boy who was key to unlocking Italy's potential, writes Naomi O'Leary

Ireland News, Ireland Headlines

For critics, the death of the man nicknamed “The Knight” begins a process of reckoning with the long dominance of someone who was seen by his opponents as having represented, and fostered, some of Italy’s worst flaws.

Berlusconi with taoiseach and president of the European Council Bertie Ahern at Farmleigh House, Phoenix Park, Dublin in 2004. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Using a tactic that foreshadowed how political upstarts would directly cultivate an audience in the social media age, Berlusconi used his television networks to launch himself into national politics.

Berlusconi swept to power two months later, becoming the first Italian prime minister to have held no prior political office. Exploits with women were a point of pride to the mogul, and he remained doted upon by housewives and male admirers throughout a succession of scandals and much younger girlfriends.

Silvion Berlusconi and Russian president Vladimir Putin, in Crimea in 2015. Photograph: Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images

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