Berlusconi plots Forza Italia relaunch from hospital bed

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is planning to relaunch his political party, Forza Italia, when he comes out of hospital on July 5th, according to reports in the Italian media.

Berlusconi plots Forza Italia relaunch from hospital bed
Silvio Berlusconi is reportedly hoping to relaunch his political party, Forza Italia. Photo: Alberto Solaro/AFP

The 80-year-old billionaire underwent open heart surgery to replace his aortic valve after sustaining a heart attack earlier this month, but is showing no signs of slowing down.

Indeed, during his time in hospital he has been visited by a never-ending trail of political allies with whom he has discussed his idea to relaunch Forza Italia, Corriere della Sera reported.

“I've just spent a few hours with him and I'm amazed he has so much strength and energy, just one week after the operation,” Adriano Galliani, the CEO of Berlusconi's A.C Milan football club told the paper.

The ex-prime minister is believed to be working on a 15-point programme to relaunch Forza Italia and wants to hold a party conference as early as this autumn. The party has performed disastrously at local, regional and European elections since 2013, when it became a branch of the People of Freedom party (Pdl).

It is suggested that the 47-year-old president of Liguria, Giovanni Toti, could be given a leading role in the new-look Forza Italia.

But in spite of the media mogul's energy and enthusiasm, his children are reportedly eager to see him retire from political life and Berlusconi's medics at Milan's San Raffaele hospital have also warned against him doing too much too soon.

“He needs to rest,” said Berlusconi's personal doctor, Alberto Zangrillo. “The operation really took it out of him and he is in a lot of pain.”

Berlusconi is not expected to leave hospital before July 5th, during which time he may even be visited by his long-term friend and political ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin

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Italy’s Meloni in Libya to discuss energy and migration

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni arrived on Saturday in the Libyan capital Tripoli for talks on energy as well as the thorny issue of migration, Libyan state media said.

Italy's Meloni in Libya to discuss energy and migration

Meloni’s trip – her second to a North African country this week – is the first by a European leader to war-battered Libya since her predecessor Mario Draghi’s visit in April 2021.

State television said the Italian premier was received by Abdelhamid Dbeibah, who heads the Tripoli-based, UN brokered Government of National Unity which is contested by a rival administration in the east.

Libya and its former colonial power Italy are key trade partners, particularly in energy, where Italian giant Eni plays a major role in tapping into Africa’s largest known oil reserves.

Meloni was accompanied by Eni chief Claudio Descalzi, who is expected to sign a deal with Libya’s National Oil Company to develop two Libyan offshore gas fields.

Eni will invest $8 million in the two fields, NOC chief Farhat Bengdara said in televised remarks this week, adding they are expected to produce 850 million cubic metres of gas.

Meloni visited Algeria on Monday seeking supply deals from Africa’s top gas exporter to help reduce reliance on Russia after it invaded Ukraine last year.

During her trip to Libya, she is also expected to discuss the issue of migration amid rising numbers of irregular migrants from Libya to Italy.

Libya has been wracked by years of conflict and division since a NATO-backed revolt toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

The country is a conduit for thousands of people each year fleeing conflict and poverty across Africa, seeking refuge across the Mediterranean in Europe.

Meloni’s far-right government took office in October, vowing to stop migrant landings in Italy, which reached more than 105,000 in 2022.

The central Mediterranean route is considered the world’s most treacherous, according to the International Organization for Migration, which estimated that 1,377 migrants had disappeared on that route last year.