Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s ex-prime minister dies at 86

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a billionaire businessman who created Italy’s largest media company before transforming the political landscape, died on Monday aged 86.

Two members of the Italian government mourned his passing, with Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini calling him in a statement “a great man and a great Italian.”

Defence Minister Guido Crosetto wrote on Twitter that Berlusconi’s death amounted to the end of an era.

“I loved him very much. Farewell Silvio,” Crosetto said.

Berlusconi, who was prime minister during 1994-5, 2001-6 and 2008-11, had been suffering from leukaemia and had recently developed a lung infection.

Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party is part of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing coalition, and although he himself did not have a role in government, his death is likely to destabilize Italian politics in the coming months.

His business empire also faces an uncertain future. He never publicly indicated who would take full charge of his MFE (MFEB.MI) company following his death, even though his eldest daughter Marina is expected to play a prominent role.