Italian elections show rise of the far right as they carry echoes of Berlusconi — and Trump

ROME — Italians who elected a bombastic billionaire businessman and media figure to lead their country are still dealing with the chaotic consequences more than two decades later.

Those across the peninsula who watched the American election in 2016 saw President Trump as a reflection of Silvio Berlusconi, the conservative 81-year-old who has been prime minister four times since 1994.

While Berlusconi reportedly hates comparisons to his American counterpart, the media mogul who once controlled a large chunk of Italy’s TV programming has a “bromance” with Vladimir Putin, been accused of authoritarian tendencies, continually finds new scandals to be part of and even jokes about receiving hair transplants.

He is probably best known internationally for the investigation into his “bunga bunga” sex parties, though the case that is currently stopping Berlusconi from running for office is a tax fraud conviction that he says is politically motivated.

His shadow has hung over the country’s politics even when he is not in power and his Forza Italia party is expected to garner 17% of the vote in a general election on Sunday where the outcome is uncertain.

Italian politics is often built on coalitions, and Forza could also squeak enough support for a governing partnership with the far-right Northern League and Brothers of Italy parties, who are enjoying a surge in support.

“Berlusconi is not Trump anymore.

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