Silvio Berlusconi has done it again – the 85-year-old former prime minister returns to parliament after winning a seat in Italy’s Senate. He does so nine years after being forced out of Palazzo Madama for tax fraud.
Berlusconi’s Forza Italia was celebrating on Monday after a right-wing coalition led by Giorgia Meloni and her post-fascist Brothers of Italy party triumphed at the ballot boxes.
The media mogul, who has been recently dubbed “the immortal” for his longevity in politics, scored a seat in Monza, Lombardy, where he owns a Serie A football club.
The billionaire was forced out of the upper house of parliament in 2013 after being convicted of corporate tax fraud.
It was a heavy blow for the cavaliere’s political career, one which, in Berlusconi’s words, marked a “day of mourning for democracy”.
The three-time former premier was ordered to serve community service and was banned from holding elected office. That ban expired in 2018 but it would take Berlusconi a while to recover his shine.
His bid to become Italy’s head of state failed in January. But, at his ninth general election – likely his last – Berlusconi bounced back.
He campaigned largely on social media, snapping up over 600,000 followers on TikTok in just a month, and wooing the youth vote with (slightly awkward) grandad jokes.
In one video, which was watched over one million times, he interrupted himself to brag about killing an enormous fly. In another, he joked about stealing young men’s girlfriends.
Berlusconi, who burst onto the political scene 28 years ago, said he would be a father figure to Meloni, 45, and fellow coalition partner Matteo Salvini, 49.
He also said he would be a pro-European voice in what is expected to be Italy’s most right-wing government since World War II.
“I’m going to try to act as director in the government,” Berlusconi said after casting his vote.
This is despite a series of health issues, including a fall at the start of the campaign which made it difficult for him to walk.
Berlusconi is also currently part of a criminal trial, in which he is accused of paying starlets to keep quiet about his allegedly erotic dinner parties, known as ‘bunga bunga’.
The conservative European People’s Party (EPP), the biggest group in the European Parliament, tweeted their congratulations to Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, which secured about eight percent of Sunday’s vote.
“We are confident that Forza Italia will guide the next government into a path that serves the best interests of the Italian people as part of a strong and stable Europe,” it said.