Paolo Patrizis Photo Essay Migration Nation

"Berlusconi" redirects here. For other uses, see Berlusconi (disambiguation).

Silvio Berlusconi (Italian pronunciation: [ˈsilvjo berluˈskoːni] ( listen); born 29 September 1936) is an Italian media tycoon and politician who served as Prime Minister of Italy in four governments.

Berlusconi is the controlling shareholder of Mediaset and owned the Italian football club A.C. Milan from 1986 to 2017. He is nicknamed Il Cavaliere (The Knight) for his Order of Merit for Labour, although he voluntarily resigned from this order in March 2014.[2] In 2017, Forbes magazine ranked him as the 199th richest man in the world with a net worth of US$7.0 billion.[3][4] In 2009, Forbes ranked him 12th in the List of The World's Most Powerful People due to his domination of Italian politics.[5]

Berlusconi was Prime Minister for nine years in total, making him the longest-serving post-war Prime Minister of Italy, and the third longest-serving since Italian unification, after Benito Mussolini and Giovanni Giolitti. He was the leader of the centre-right party Forza Italia from 1994 to 2009, and its successor party The People of Freedom from 2009 to 2013. Since November 2013, he has led a revived Forza Italia.[6] Berlusconi was the senior G8 leader from 2009 until 2011 and he currently holds the record for hosting G8 Summits (having hosted three Summits in Italy).

After serving nearly 19 years as member of the Chamber of Deputies, Italy's lower house, after the 2013 general election he became a member of the Senate. On 1 August 2013, he was convicted of tax-fraud by the court of final instance, Court of Cassation, confirming his four-year prison sentence (of which three years are automatically pardoned) along with a public office ban for two years. As his age exceeded 70 years, he was exempted from direct imprisonment, and instead served his sentence by doing unpaid social community work.[7] Because he had been sentenced to a gross imprisonment for more than two years, a new Italian anti-corruption law led to the Senate expelling and barring him from serving in any legislative office for six years.[8][9] Berlusconi has pledged to stay leader of Forza Italia throughout his custodial sentence and public office ban.[7][10]

Berlusconi is famous for his populist political style and brash, overbearing personality.[citation needed] In his long-time tenure, he was often accused of being an authoritarian leader and a strongman.[11][12][citation needed]

Family background and personal life

Berlusconi was born in Milan in 1936, where he was raised in a middle-class family.[13] His father, Luigi Berlusconi (1908–1989), was a bank employee, and his mother, Rosa Bossi (1911–2008), a housewife.[14] Silvio was the first of three children; he had a sister, Maria Francesca Antonietta Berlusconi (1943–2009), and has a brother, Paolo Berlusconi (born 1949).

After completing his secondary school education at a Salesian college, he studied law at the Università Statale in Milan, graduating (with honours) in 1961, with a thesis on the legal aspects of advertising. Berlusconi was not required to serve the standard one-year stint in the Italian army which was compulsory at the time.[15] During his university studies, he was an upright bass player in a group formed with the now Mediaset Chairman and amateur pianist Fedele Confalonieri and occasionally performed as a cruise shipcrooner. In later life, he wrote A.C. Milan's anthem with the Italian music producer and pop singer Tony Renis and Forza Italia's anthem with the opera director Renato Serio. With the Neapolitan singer Mariano Apicella, he wrote two Neapolitan song albums: Meglio 'na canzone in 2003 and L'ultimo amore in 2006.

In 1965, he married Carla Elvira Dall'Oglio, and they had two children: Maria Elvira, better known as Marina (born 1966), and Pier Silvio (born 1969).[16] By 1980, Berlusconi had established a relationship with the actress Veronica Lario (born Miriam Bartolini), with whom he subsequently had three children: Barbara (born 1984), Eleonora (born 1986) and Luigi (born 1988). He was divorced from Dall'Oglio in 1985, and married Lario in 1990. By this time, Berlusconi was a well-known entrepreneur, and his wedding was a notable social event. One of his best men was Bettino Craxi, a former prime minister and leader of the Italian Socialist Party. In May 2009, Lario announced that she was to file for divorce.[17]

On 28 December 2012, Berlusconi was ordered to pay his ex-wife Veronica Lario $48 million a year in a divorce settlement that was filed Christmas Day, and he will keep the $100 million house they live in with their three children.[18]

In addition to his five children, Berlusconi has ten grandchildren.[19]

In April 2017, Berlusconi appeared in a video promoting a vegetarianEaster campaign. Berlusconi was shown cuddling lambs he had adopted to save from slaughtering for the traditional Easter Sunday feast. He has neither confirmed nor denied whether he himself is a vegetarian, however.[20]

Business career

Milano Due

Main article: Milano Due

Berlusconi's business career began in construction. In the late 1960s, he built Milano Due (Italian for "Milan Two"), a development of 4,000 residential apartments east of Milan. It was a residential centre in the Italian town of Segrate and was built as a new town by Edilnord, a Berlusconi owned company associated with the Fininvest group.

The main peculiarity of Milano Due is a system of walkways and bridges that connects the whole neighbourhood, so that it is possible to walk around without ever intersecting traffic. It was marketed as a residential neighbourhood for families of the upper middle class with children. The works started in 1970, and were completed in 1979. Distinctive landmarks are the sporting facilities, a small artificial lake and a children's playground.

The profits from this venture provided the seed money for his advertising agency.[21]

TeleMilano

Berlusconi first entered the media world in 1973, by setting up a small cable television company, TeleMilano, to service units built on his Segrate properties. It began transmitting in September the following year. TeleMilano was the first Italian private television channel, and later evolved into Canale 5, the first national private TV station.

After buying two further channels, Berlusconi relocated the station to central Milan in 1977 and began broadcasting over the airwaves.[22]

Fininvest

Main article: Fininvest

In 1978, Berlusconi founded his first media group, Fininvest, and joined the Propaganda Due masonic lodge. In the five years leading up to 1983 he earned some 113 billion Italian lire (€58.3 million). The funding sources are still unknown because of a complex system of holding companies, despite investigations conducted by various state attorneys.

Fininvest soon expanded into a country-wide network of local TV stations which had similar programming, forming, in effect, a single national network. This was seen as breaching the Italian public broadcaster RAI's statutory monopoly by creating a national network, which was later abolished. In 1980, Berlusconi founded Italy's first private national network, Canale 5, followed shortly thereafter by Italia 1, which was bought from the Rusconi family in 1982, and Rete 4, which was bought from Mondadori in 1984.[23]

Berlusconi created the first and only Italian commercial TV empire. He was assisted by his connections to Bettino Craxi, secretary-general of the Italian Socialist Party and also prime minister of Italy at that time, whose government passed, on 20 October 1984, an emergency decree legalising the nationwide transmissions made by Berlusconi's television stations.[23] This was in response to judgements on 16 October 1984, in Turin, Pescara and Rome, enforcing a law which previously restricted nationwide broadcasting to RAI, that had ordered these private networks to cease transmitting.

After political turmoil in 1985, the decree was approved definitively. But for some years, Berlusconi's three channels remained in a legal limbo, and were not allowed to broadcast news and political commentary. They were elevated to the status of full national TV channels in 1990, by the so-called Mammì law.

In 1995, Berlusconi sold a portion of his media holdings, first to the German media group Kirch Group (now bankrupt) and then by public offer. In 1999, Berlusconi expanded his media interests by forming a partnership with Kirch called the Epsilon MediaGroup.[24]

On 9 July 2011, a Milan court ordered Fininvest to pay 560 million euros in damages to Compagnie Industriali Riunite in a long-running legal dispute.[25]

On 5 August 2016, Fininvest announced the signing of a preliminary agreement to sell all of their shares of A.C. Milan to Sino-Europe Sports Investment Management Changxing Co.Ltd. The deal was scheduled to be finalized by the end of 2016.[26] On 13 April 2017, Berlusconi sold A.C. Milan to Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux for a total of €830 million after a 31-year reign.[27][28]

Political career

Main article: Political career of Silvio Berlusconi

Berlusconi rapidly rose to the forefront of Italian politics in January 1994. He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies for the first time and appointed as Prime Minister following the 1994 parliamentary elections, when Forza Italia gained a relative majority a mere three months after having been launched. However, his cabinet collapsed after nine months, due to internal disagreements among the coalition parties. In the April 1996 snap parliamentary elections, Berlusconi was defeated by the centre-left candidate Romano Prodi. In the May 2001 parliamentary elections, he was again the centre-right candidate for Prime Minister and won against the centre-left candidate Francesco Rutelli. Berlusconi then formed his second and third cabinets, until 2006. Berlusconi was leader of the centre-right coalition in the April 2006 parliamentary elections, which he lost by a very narrow margin, his opponent again being Romano Prodi. He was re-elected in the parliamentary elections of April 2008 following the collapse of Prodi's government and sworn in for a third time as Prime Minister on 8 May 2008.

After losing his majority in parliament amid growing fiscal problems related to the European debt crisis, Berlusconi resigned as Prime Minister on 16 November 2011.[29] In February 2013 Berlusconi has led the People of Freedom and its right-wing allies in the campaign for the parliamentary elections. Although he initially planned to run for a fifth term as Prime Minister,[30][31][32] as part of the agreement with the Lega Nord he would instead plan to lead the coalition without becoming Prime Minister.[33] Berlusconi's Centre-right coalition gained 29% of votes, ranking second, after the centre-left coalition Italy Common Good led by Pier Luigi Bersani. Subsequently, the PdL was supporting the government of Enrico Letta, together with the Democratic Party and the centristCivic Choice of former Prime Minister Mario Monti.[34]

He was criticised for his electoral coalitions with right wing populist parties (the Lega Nord and the National Alliance) and for apologetic remarks about Mussolini, though he also officially apologised for Italy's actions in Libya during colonial rule.[35] While in power, Berlusconi maintained ownership of Mediaset, the largest media company in Italy, and was criticised for his dominance of the Italian media.[36][37] His leadership was also undermined by sex scandals.[38]

Beginnings

Berlusconi's political career began in 1994, when he entered politics, reportedly admitting to Indro Montanelli and Enzo Biagi that he was forced to do so to avoid imprisonment.[39] He subsequently served as Prime Minister of Italy from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006, and 2008 to 2011. His career was racked with controversies and trials; amongst these was his failure to honour his promise to sell his personal assets in Mediaset, the largest television broadcaster in Italy, in order to dispel any perceived conflicts of interest.

In the early 1990s, the Pentapartito – the five governing parties, Christian Democracy (Democrazia Cristiana), the Italian Socialist Party, the Italian Social-Democratic Party, the Italian Republican Party and the Italian Liberal Party – lost much of their electoral strength almost overnight due to a large number of judicial investigations concerning the financial corruption of many of their foremost members (see the Mani Pulite affair). This led to a general expectation that upcoming elections would be won by the Democratic Party of the Left, the heirs to the former Italian Communist Party, and their Alliance of Progressives coalition – unless an alternative arose. On 26 January 1994, Berlusconi announced his decision to enter politics, ("enter the field", in his own words) presenting his own political party, Forza Italia, on a platform focused on defeating the Communists. His political aim was to convince the voters of the Pentapartito, who were shocked and confused by Mani Pulite scandals, that Forza Italia offered both a fresh uniqueness and the continuation of the pro-western free market policies followed by Italy since the end of the Second World War. Shortly after he decided to enter the political arena, investigators into the Mani Pulite affair were said to be close to issuing warrants for the arrest of Berlusconi and senior executives of his business group. During his political career Berlusconi repeatedly stated that the Mani Pulite investigations were led by communist prosecutors who wanted to establish a soviet-style government in Italy.[40][41]

1994 electoral victory

Main article: Italian general election, 1994

In order to win the March 1994 general election, Berlusconi formed two separate electoral alliances: Pole of Freedoms (Polo delle Libertà) with the Lega Nord (Northern League) in northern Italian districts, and another, the Pole of Good Government (Polo del Buon Governo), with the National Alliance (Alleanza Nazionale; heir to the Italian Social Movement) in central and southern regions.[42] In a pragmatic move, he did not ally with the latter in the North because the League disliked them. As a result, Forza Italia was allied with two parties that were not allied with each other.

Berlusconi launched a massive campaign of electoral advertisements on his three TV networks, and preparing his top advertising salesmen with seminars and screen tests, of whom 50 were subsequently elected despite an absence legislative experience.[39] He subsequently won the elections, with Forza Italia garnering 21% of the popular vote, more than any other single party.[43] One of the most significant promises that he made in order to secure victory was that his government would create "one million more jobs". He was appointed Prime Minister in 1994, but his term in office was short because of the inherent contradictions in his coalition: the League, a regional party with a strong electoral base in northern Italy, was at that time fluctuating between federalist and separatist positions, and the National Alliance was a nationalist party that had yet to renounce neo-fascism at the time.

Fall of the Berlusconi I cabinet

In December 1994, following the leaking to the press of news of a fresh investigation by Milan magistrates, Umberto Bossi, leader of the Lega Nord, left the coalition claiming that the electoral pact had not been respected, forcing Berlusconi to resign from office and shifting the majority's weight to the centre-left. Lega Nord also resented the fact that many of its MPs had switched to Forza Italia, allegedly lured by promises of more prestigious portfolios. In 1998, various articles attacking Berlusconi were published by Lega Nord's official newspaper La Padania, with titles such as "La Fininvest è nata da Cosa Nostra" – "Fininvest (Berlusconi's principal company) was founded by the Mafia".

Berlusconi remained as caretaker prime minister for a little over a month, until his replacement by a technocratic government headed by Lamberto Dini. Dini had been a key minister in the Berlusconi cabinet, and Berlusconi said the only way he would support a technocratic government would be if Dini headed it. In the end, however, Dini was supported by most of the opposition parties, but not by Forza Italia and Lega Nord.[citation needed] In 1996, Berlusconi and his coalition lost the elections and were replaced by a centre-left government led by Romano Prodi.[44]

2001 electoral victory

Main article: Italian general election, 2001

In 2001, Berlusconi ran again, as leader of the right-wing coalition House of Freedoms (Italian: La Casa delle Libertà), which included the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats, the Lega Nord, the National Alliance and other parties. Berlusconi's success in the May 2001 general election led to him becoming Prime Minister once more, with the coalition receiving 49.6% of the vote for the Chamber of Deputies and 42.5% for the Senate.

On the television interviews programme Porta a Porta, during the last days of the electoral campaign, Berlusconi created a powerful impression on the public by undertaking to sign a so-called Contratto con gli Italiani (English: Contract with the Italians), an idea copied outright by his advisor Luigi Crespi from Newt Gingrich's Contract with America introduced six weeks before the 1994 US Congressional election.[45] This was considered to be a creative masterstroke in his 2001 bid for prime ministership. Berlusconi committed in this contract to improve several aspects of the Italian economy and life. Firstly, he undertook to simplify the complex tax system by introducing just two income tax rates (33% for those earning over 100,000 euros, and 23% for anyone earning less than that figure: anyone earning less than 11,000 euros a year would not be taxed). Secondly, he promised to halve the unemployment rate. Thirdly, he committed to financing and developing a massive new public works programme. Fourthly, he promised to raise the minimum monthly pension rate to 516 euros. Fifthly, he would reduce crime by introducing police officers to patrol all local zones and areas in Italy's major cities.[46] Berlusconi promised to not stand for re-election in 2006 if he failed to honour at least four of these five promises.

Berlusconi II cabinet

Opposition parties claim Berlusconi was not able to achieve the goals he promised in his Contratto con gli Italiani. Some of his partners in government, especially the National Alliance and the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats, admitted the Government fell short of the promises made in the agreement, attributing the failure to an unforeseeable downturn in global economic conditions. Berlusconi himself consistently asserted that he achieved all the goals of the agreement, and said his Government provided un miracolo continuo (a continuous miracle) that made all 'earlier governments pale' (by comparison). He attributed the widespread failure to recognise these achievements to a campaign of mystification and vilification in the print media, asserting that 85% of newspapers were opposed to him.[47] Luca Ricolfi, an independent analyst, held that Berlusconi had managed to deliver only one promise out of five, the one concerning minimum pension rates. According to Ricolfi, the other four promises were not honoured, in particular the undertakings on tax simplification and crime reduction.[48]

Subsequent elections

The House of Freedoms did not do as well in the 2003 local elections as it did in the 2001 national elections. In common with many other European governing groups, in the 2004 elections to the European Parliament, gaining 43.37% support.[clarification needed] Forza Italia's support was also reduced from 29.5% to 21.0% (in the 1999 European elections Forza Italia had 25.2%). As an outcome of these results the other coalition parties, whose electoral results were more satisfactory, asked Berlusconi and Forza Italia for greater influence in the government's political line.

Berlusconi III cabinet

In the 2005 regional elections (3 April/4 April 2005), centre-left candidates the for regional presidencies won in 12 out of 14 regions where control of local governments and presidencies were at stake. Berlusconi's coalition held only two of the regions (Lombardy and Veneto) up for re-election. Three parties, Union of Christian and Centre Democrats, National Alliance and New Italian Socialist Party, threatened to withdraw from the Berlusconi government. Berlusconi after some hesitation, then presented to the President of the Republic a request for the dissolution of his government on 20 April 2005. On 23 April, he formed a new government with the same allies, reshuffling ministers and amending the government programme. A key point demanded by the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats (and to a lesser extent by National Alliance) for their continued support was that the strong focus on tax reduction be reduced.

Attempt to reform the Italian constitution

A key point in the Berlusconi government's programme was a planned reform of the Italian Constitution, which Berlusconi considered to be 'inspired by the Soviets',[49] an issue the coalition parties themselves initially had significantly different opinions about. The Lega Nord insisted on a federalist reform (devolution of more power to the regions) as a condition for remaining in the coalition. The National Alliance party pushed for a so-called 'strong premiership' (more powers to the executive), intended as a counterweight to any federalist reform, in order to preserve the integrity of the nation. The Union of Christian and Centre Democrats asked for a proportional electoral law that would not damage small parties, and was generally more willing to discuss compromises with the moderate wing of the opposition.

Difficulties in negotiating an agreement caused some internal unrest in the Berlusconi government in 2003, but they were mostly overcome and the law (including devolution of powers to the regions, Federal Senate and "strong premiership") was passed by the Senate in April 2004; it was slightly modified by the Chamber of Deputies in October 2004, and again in October 2005, and finally approved by the Senate on 16 November 2005, with a narrow majority. Approval in a referendum is necessary in order to amend the Italian Constitution without a qualified two-thirds parliamentary majority. The referendum was held on 25–26 July 2006 and resulted in the rejection of the constitutional reform, with 61.3% of voters casting ballots against it.

2006 election and opposition

Operating under a new electoral law written unilaterally by the governing parties with strong criticism from the parliamentary opposition, the April 2006 general election was held. The results of this election handed Romano Prodi's centre-left coalition, known as The Union, (Berlusconi's opposition) a very thin majority: 49.8% against 49.7% for the centre-right coalition House of Freedoms in the Lower House, and a two-senator lead in the Senate (158 senators for The Union and 156 for the House of Freedoms). The Court of Cassation subsequently validated the voting procedures and determined that the election process was constitutional.

According to the new electoral rules, The Union, (nicknamed "The Soviet Union" by Berlusconi[50] with a margin of only 25,224 votes (out of over 38 million voters), nevertheless won 348 seats (compared to 281 for the House of Freedoms) in the lower house as a result of a majority premium given to whichever coalition of parties was awarded more votes.

Ironically, this electoral law, approved shortly before the election by Berlusconi's coalition in an attempt to improve their chances of winning the election, led to the coalition's defeat and gave Prodi the chance to form a new cabinet. However, Prodi's coalition consisted of a large number of smaller parties. If only one of these nine parties that formed The Union withdrew its support to Prodi, his government would have collapsed. This situation was also the result of the new "diabolic" electoral system.[51]

Centrist parties such as the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats immediately conceded The Union's victory, while other parties, like Berlusconi's Forza Italia and the Northern League, refused to accept its validity, right up until 2 May 2006, when Berlusconi submitted his resignation to President Ciampi.[52]

2008 electoral victory

Main article: Italian general election, 2008

In the run-up to the 2006 general election, there had been talk among some of the coalition members of the House of Freedoms about a possible merger into a "united party of moderates and reformers". Forza Italia, the National Alliance party of Gianfranco Fini, and the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats of Pier Ferdinando Casini all seemed interested in the project. Soon after the election, however, Casini started to distance his party from its historical allies.

On 2 December 2006, during a major demonstration of the centre-right in Rome against the government led by Romano Prodi, Berlusconi proposed the foundation of a "Freedom Party", arguing that the people and voters of the different political movements aligned to the demonstration were all part of a "people of freedom".

On 18 November 2007, after claiming the collection of more than 7 million signatures (including that of Umberto Bossi) demanding that the President of the RepublicGiorgio Napolitano call a fresh election,[53] Berlusconi announced from the running board of a car in a crowded Piazza San Babila in Milan[54] that Forza Italia would soon merge or transform into The People of Freedom party, also known as the PdL (Il Popolo della Libertà).[55][56] Berlusconi also stated that this new political movement could include the participation of other parties.[57] Both supporters and critics of the new party called Berlusconi's announcement "the running boardrevolution".[58][59][60]

After the sudden fall of the Prodi II Cabinet on 24 January, the break-up of The Union coalition and the subsequent political crisis (which paved the way for a fresh general election in April 2008), Berlusconi, Gianfranco Fini and other party leaders finally agreed on 8 February 2008 to form a joint list named The People of Freedom (Italian: Il Popolo della Libertà), allied with the Lega Nord of Umberto Bossi and with the Sicilian Movement for Autonomy of Raffaele Lombardo.[61]

In the snap parliamentary elections held on 13/14 April 2008, this coalition won against Walter Veltroni's centre-left coalition in both houses of the Italian Parliament.

In the 315-member Senate of the Republic, Berlusconi's coalition won 174 seats to Veltroni's 134. In the lower house, Berlusconi's conservative bloc led by a margin of 9% of the vote: 46.5% (344 seats) to 37.5% (246 seats). Berlusconi capitalised on discontent over the nation's stagnating economy and the unpopularity of Prodi's government. His declared top priorities were to remove piles of rubbish from the streets of Naples and to improve the state of the Italian economy, which had under-performed the rest of the Eurozone for years. He also said he was open to working with the opposition, and pledged to fight tax avoidance and tax evasion, reform the judicial system and reduce public debt. He intended to reduce the number of Cabinet ministers to 12. Berlusconi and his ministers (Berlusconi IV Cabinet) were sworn in on 8 May 2008.

On 21 November 2008, the National Council of Forza Italia, chaired by Alfredo Biondi and attended by Berlusconi himself, dissolved Forza Italia and established The People of Freedom, whose inauguration took place on 27 March 2009, the 15th anniversary of Berlusconi's first electoral victory.

While Forza Italia had never held a formal party congress to formulate its rules, procedures, and democratic balloting for candidates and issues, (since 1994 three party conventions of Forza Italia have been held, all of them resolving to support Berlusconi and reelecting him by acclamation) on 27 March 2009, at the foundation congress of the People of Freedom political movement the statute of the new party was subject to a vote of approval. On 5,820 voting delegates, 5,811 voted in favour, 4 against and 5 abstained.[62] During that political congress Berlusconi was elected as Chairman of the People of Freedom by a show of hands. According to the official minutes of the congress the result favoured Berlusconi, with 100 per cent of the delegates voting for him.[63][64][65]

The People of Freedom split

See also: The People of Freedom and Future and Freedom

Between 2009 and 2010, Gianfranco Fini, former leader of the national conservative National Alliance (AN) and President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, became a vocal critic of the leadership of Berlusconi. Fini departed from party's majority line on several issues but, most of all, he was a proponent of a more structured party organisation. His criticism was aimed at the leadership style of Berlusconi, who tends to rely on his personal charisma to lead the party from the centre and supports a less structured form of party, a movement-party that organises itself only at election times.[66]

On 15 April 2010, an association named Generation Italy was launched in order to better represent Fini's views within the party and push for a different form of party organisation.[67] On 22 April 2010 the National Committee of the PdL convened in Rome for the first time in a year. The conflict between Fini and Berlusconi was covered live on television. At the end of the day, a resolution proposed by Berlusconi's loyalists was put before the assembly and approved by a landslide margin.[68] On 29 July 2010, the party executive released a document in which Fini was described as "incompatible" with the political line of the PdL and unable to perform his job of President of the Chamber of Deputies in a neutral way. Berlusconi asked Fini to step down, and the executive proposed the suspension from party membership of three MPs who had harshly criticised Berlusconi and accused some party members of criminal offences.[69] As response, Fini and his followers formed their own groups in both chambers under the name of Future and Freedom (FLI).[70][71][72][73] It was soon clear that FLI would leave the PdL and become an independent party. On 7 November, during a convention in Bastia Umbra, Fini asked Berlusconi to step down from his post of Prime Minister and proposed a new government including the Union of the Centre (UdC).[74] A few days later, the four FLI members of the government resigned.[75] On 14 December, FLI voted against Berlusconi in a vote of confidence in the Chamber of Deputies, a vote nonetheless won by Berlusconi by 314 to 311.[76][77]

In May 2011, PdL suffered a big blow in local elections. Particularly painful was the loss of Milan, Berlusconi's hometown and party stronghold.[78] In response to this and to conflicts within party ranks, Angelino Alfano, the Justice minister, was chosen as national secretary in charge of reorganising and renewing the party.[79] The appointment of 40-year-old Alfano, a former Christian Democrat and later leader of Forza Italia in Sicily, was unanimously decided by the party executive. On 1 July, the National Council modified the party's constitution and Alfano was elected secretary almost unanimously. In his acceptance speech, Alfano proposed the introduction of primaries.[80]

Resignation

On 10 October, the Chamber of Deputies

Berlusconi in his private jet, in the 1980s
Silvio Berlusconi in 1994
Berlusconi addressing a joint session of the U.S. Congress in 2006
Berlusconi addressing a crowd during a PdL meeting in 2008
Anti-Berlusconi demonstration, held during his visit to Amsterdam in 2009

Japan

© Paolo Patrizi

In view of a recently shrinking population and the decline of peripheral rural regions in favour of the large metropolises Tokyo and Osaka, urban shrinkage in Japan, is primarily the result of demographic transition. As a country with a high life expectancy, a low birth rate, and negligible immigration, Japan is not only exemplary for the consequences of an aging population, for the past several years it has registered an overall population decrease. The shrinking of the population in the peripheral rural areas of Japan and the problems that will face the whole country in the long term are already a reality: dramatic declines in population, the extreme aging of society, and problems of maintaining a sustainable infrastructure. The population concentration in Japan, as elsewhere, is primarily a consequence of industrialization. The escape from the countryside which begun at the turn of the twentieth century was motivated by an excess of workers in small-farm agriculture, and initially it had many positive effects. The personnel reductions in traditional family operations provided impetus for agriculture to improve efficiency and labour productivity and at the same time provided a welcome source of labour for industry.  As industrialization increased during the post-war period, the motivations and effects of domestic migration changed. The more the economic upswing influenced urbanization processes and the attractiveness of cities, the more clearly it changed from a push effect of the rural areas to a pull effect of the city. The concentration of population and the overdevelopment of agglomeration areas went hand in hand with thinning and underdevelopment in the rural and peripheral regions. This trend, which was particularly strong during the face of greatest economic growth, between 1955 and 1973, has clearly weakened since the mid-1970s, but it has nevertheless continued to worsen the imbalance in regional population distribution. A more refined examination of urban development in rural and peripheral regions, shows that shrinking is almost always associated with deindustrialization and the aging of society. At the centre of the problem of population aging in Japan is the family. Like other Asian societies that have been heavily influenced by the strong emphasis on filial piety associated with Confucian philosophical tradition, Japanese have historically viewed co-residence with parents as a moral obligation of at least one child (in Japan has normally been the eldest son), and a corresponding focus on provision of care to frail elderly by a family member. However, in the post-World War II era, some of these assumptions have come to be challenged as Japan has become increasingly urbanized and mobile, and as interpretations of values in other societies (particularly the U.S.) have influenced how Japanese think about individual and collective roles in society. The rapid change which Japan has experienced since the end of the World War II, and particularly since the end of the bubble economy of the 1980s, has had a significant influence on the elderly. As young people have moved to major metropolitan areas, the elderly have been effectively left behind in the countryside. Over the next few years, we will see the increased aging of the population of Japan, a process that will be magnified in rural areas, leaving neighbourhoods and in very remote areas whole towns with no young people and children.normally been the eldest son), and a corresponding focus on provision of care to frail elderly by a family member. However, in the post-World War II era, some of these assumptions have come to be challenged as Japan has become increasingly urbanized and mobile, and as interpretations of values in other societies (particularly the U.S.) have influenced how Japanese think about individual and collective roles in society. The rapid change which Japan has experienced since the end of the World War II, and particularly since the end of the bubble economy of the 1980s, has had a significant influence on the elderly. As young people have moved to major metropolitan areas, the elderly have been effectively left behind in the countryside. Over the next few years, we will see the increased aging of the population of Japan, a process that will be magnified in rural areas, leaving neighbourhoods and in very remote areas whole towns with no young people and children.

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