The Berlusconi Show, a 17 March 2010 documentary from the BBC’s Mark Franchetti, explores the curious figure of Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister who has become a figure of derision in the rest of the world but maintains a strong popularity at home, thanks in large part to his control of virtually all the nation’s television broadcasters.
Repeatedly tried for tax evasion, bribery, and corruption and linked to organized crime, Berlusconi has managed not only to survive but thrive — in part because he’s managed to portray himself as a lovable, capable scamp.
It’s not a question of whether or not he has mafia ties: Berlusconi once hired convicted mafioso Vittorio Mangano to run his Milan estate, and brought him back twice after Mangano had served prison terms for his crimes. But all this doesn’t seem to matter to the Italian electorate.
This is the man who frankly admitted to journalists that he entered politics because otherwise he’d be tried and sentenced to prison. Driven by ego and naked ambition, he bends the law to his will, successfully winning passage a law granting him criminal immunity. He’s called himself both the equal of any prime minister in history and the most persecuted man the world has ever known.
The documentary was aired before the latest scandals, which now have him facing a criminal trial for having sex with an underage prostitute, the highlight of one of his infamous “Bunga Bunga” parties, immortalized here in a caricature of that title by Italian artist Adescalco Marangoni .
From his Flickr set under a Creative Commons license.