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Italy's Berlusconi addresses Forza Italia members from hospital

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
Italy's Berlusconi addresses Forza Italia members from hospital
Silvio Berlusconi attends the Italian Senate following the general elections October 2022. Photo: Andreas SOLARO/AFP.

Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi on Saturday gave his first address to the public since being hospitalised a month ago, delivering a video message to party members from his hospital room.

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"Here I am, here for you, wearing a shirt and jacket for the first time in a month," the 86-year-old billionaire media mogul said in a pre-recorded address to a convention of his right-wing Forza Italia party.

Smartly dressed and sitting behind a desk with the party's banner and the Italian flag behind him, he thanked members for their support, "which more than anything helped me overcome a very dangerous pneumonia".

READ ALSO: Silvio Berlusconi: Italian ex-PM in hospital with leukaemia

Berlusconi was admitted to Milan's San Raffaele Hospital on April 5th suffering from a lung infection, after which doctors revealed for the first time that he has leukaemia.

He spent the first week and a half in intensive care, before being moved to a normal ward.

He had hoped to be discharged in time for the two-day party convention which began Friday in Milan, a party source told AFP earlier this week.

But in the end a film crew was brought to his hospital room on Friday to record his speech, media reports said.

Berlusconi's doctors on Wednesday confirmed that his condition was "stable" but did not mention when he might leave hospital.

Forza Italia is a junior partner in Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's coalition government and Berlusconi, the party founder, remains its president.

But despite being in the Senate, he is rarely seen in public.

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He has been in and out of hospital over the past few years, notably after contracting Covid-19 in 2020.

Forza Italia has lost much of its support since its heyday, when Berlusconi was prime minister three times between 1994 and 2011.

The latest YouTrend survey put Forza Italia on just seven percent support, compared to almost 29 percent for Meloni's far-right Brothers of Italy party.

Their coalition allies, Matteo Salvini's anti-immigration League, are polling at around nine percent.

Berlusconi said Saturday that his party was the "backbone of this government", present "to ensure that its decisions are truly correct, fair, balanced".

In his 20-minute video, which was peppered with applause from the audience, he said he was ready to get back to work.

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