Monday, September 20, 2010

Berlusconi is Italian Power

Street art in New York City comparing Berlusconi's influence in Italy to that of Al Capone's in organized crime.

Silvio Berlusconi is the most powerful man in Italy. He is also the most controversial. Although he has been in and out of office since 1994, Prime Minister Berlusconi has consistently held one position since the late 1970s -- media tycoon.

It is estimated that Berlusconi owns 90% of Italy's airwaves. His company, Mediaset, is the nation's largest commercial broadcaster. When in office, Berlusconi also exercises control over the public broadcasting network - RAI. His wife and brother each own separate national newspapers.

The Berlusconi name is synonymous with Italian media control; a fact that has nearly led Reporters Without Borders to label Berlusconi a "predator" of world press freedom.

This all-encompassing stake in media and politics is one of the leading reasons behind nation-wide protests against the Prime Minister. "No Berlusconi Days" have cropped up with regularity in several major Italian cities, including this one in Rome in May (at right).

Though the Italian public and courts have repeatedly gone after Berlusconi, suggesting an overwhelming rejection of the man and his administration, it must be remembered that he has been elected to the office of Prime Minister three times in the past 16 years.

Is Silvio Berlusconi the most influential man in Italy? Yes. Do all Italians see that as a problem? Maybe not.

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