Silvio Berlusconi was born in Milan on September 29, 1936 as the first of three siblings.  He has a degree in law. He began his career as a property developer in 1962 .

He rapidly became Italy's leading developer of residential and large-scale retail real estate (Milano 2, Milano 3, Il Girasole). In 1980 he launched Canale 5, Italy's first national commercial television network, which was followed by Italia 1 in 1982 and Rete 4 in 1984.

The success of commercial television led to the development of other initiatives under the umbrella of the Fininvest holding company, which was founded in 1978. He went on to develop commercial television in other countries in Europe: in France with Le Cinq (1986), in Germany with Telefünf (1987) and in Spain with Telecinco (1989).

With the acquisition of Mondadori, he became Italy's most important publisher of books and magazines. Through Mediolanum and Programma Italia, the Fininvest Group built up a solid position in banking, insurance and financial services.

In 1986 he became Chairman of A.C. Milan which, under his leadership, went on to win the National League seven times, the Champion's League four times, the World Club Championship twice, as well as various other international trophies.

On the 26th January 1994 he resigned all of his positions in Fininvest. He founded the Forza Italia movement and the coalition known as Polo delle Libertą e del Buongoverno. In the general election of March 1994 he obtained a majority of the votes and became Prime Minister.

In June 1999 he was re-elected Member of the European Parliament with three million votes. From 1996 to 2001 he was leader of the opposition in Parliament. On May 13, 2001 he won the general election as the leader of the "Casa delle Libertą" coalition with 18 and a half million votes.

Berlusconi resigned in May of 2006 after losing a hardly contested election to Prodi.  His election was overshadowed by allegations of corruption for which he eventually stood trial together with 14 co-defendants (he was accused of bribing judges in Rome in the late 1980s in order to stop the sale of the giant state food conglomerate SME to a business rival).

Romano Prodi succeeded him on May, 2006.  Immediately thereafter, he returned to be the leader of the parliamentary opposition. Less than two years since his 2006 resignation he was re-elected with a large majority in the snap parliamentary elections of April 2008 that followed the collapse of Romano Prodi's government.  Berlusconi was sworn in again as prime minister on May 8, 2008.

 

Italy Fact Sheet