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Death of Berlusconi dominates front pages around world

Death of Berlusconi dominates front pages around world

German and British press are harsh in their criticism

ROME, 13 June 2023, 15:02

Redazione ANSA




The death on Monday of four-times ex premier, centre-right leader and media billionaire Silvio Berlusconi, aged 86, dominated the front pages of newspapers across Europe and well beyond on Tuesday, with editorials and commentary from political leaders, Italy correspondents and editors, as well as news.
    Spain's El Mundo opened with an article by the former centre-right premier José María Aznar.
    "Throughout my time in government we always found him to be an ally willing to tip the scales in our favour on the issues under discussion," said Aznar, who 'overlapped' with Berlusconi as heads of their respective governments for three years.
    The former leader of Spain's Popular Party also said the two leaders shared "an idea of Europe that maintains intact its projection towards the future even today".
    The German press focused its coverage on Berlusconi's populism, with La Welt describing him as "the first populist of Europe" and Sueddeutsche Zeitung calling him "the first of his species".
    "He often seduced the Italians, who almost always forgave him.
    Berlusconi was a forerunner for populists around the world," wrote SZ Italian correspondent Oliver Meiler, in an unforgiving article defining the late business tycoon-turned-politician "the masseur of the masses".
    "In all the years he was in politics, Berlusconi was concerned first and foremost with one thing: himself," continued Meiler, conceding that the centre-right leader had "changed the world, albeit not for good".
    The British press was equally harsh, playing up the folkloristic elements of Berlusconi's leadership, not least the notorious 'bunga bunga' parties at his Arcore villa near Milan. In its ritual obituary the progressive Guardian holds scandals and corruption against Berlusconi, accusing him, like Donald Trump in the US, not only of having dominated the political scene for a long time on the strength of "an oversized ego," but also of having contributed to "undermining the established institutions" of Italian democracy "including the press and the judiciary".
    The Financial Times' Tony Barber also blamed Berlusconi for being a forerunner of Trump and portrayed him as a successful "media mogul" whose name however appears destined "incomprehensibly to remain linked to a phase of economic decline" in Italy and a legacy of "sometimes deplorable standards in public life".
    Belgium's leading daily, Le Soir, opened with the headline "Silvio Berlusconi was not immortal after all", while in an editorial titled "Silvio Berlusconi, an Italian story", editor-in-chief Christophe Berti said the late former premier was "Appreciated, sometimes. Loathed, often. Adulated by some, mocked by others, but commented on by all. And always".
    "Berlusconi will undoubtedly enter the history of modern Italy, an Italy whose collective imagination he managed to shape," wrote Berti.
    Outside Europe, Russian media played up the friendship between Berlusconi and President Vladimir Putin, who on Monday described the media mogul as "a dear person, a true friend".
    "Berlusconi goes and stays" said the business newspaper Kommersant, crediting him with being "at the origin of the trend in Western politics represented by the charismatic right on both sides of the Atlantic, from Donald Trump to Viktor Orban".


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