Italy only autocratic dictatorship in the Western world?
The dozens of affairs which connect him to the Sicilian Mafia are a constant source of irritation for his opponents, but not for Berlusconi himself as he has never been in serious trouble on that score and is widely believed to have pulled his judicial system strings to scare judges off or have them moved to other assignments.
The same is true for his legendary ‘business flair’, which, again, has been largely left unchallenged because of his connections. Conflicts of interest, the introduction of legislation specifically designed to keep the justice system and its allegations and court cases related to alleged financial misdealing and monopolistic practices at bay, his false testimony in the P2 Masonic lodge membership scandal involving prominent business, military, political and secret service personalities, wiretapping – you name it, his name crops up in it.
But the crowning glory of his web of influence – and perhaps the most important – is his almost total control over the country’s most powerful media interests. This stranglehold on the country’s media is so effective that he has been accused by many press freedom organizations of being responsible for the fact that Italy has now been officially classified as a country with limited freedom of expression – the only case of its kind in the West. He is widely believed to control 90% of Italy’s national media and has stifled all legislative efforts to loosen his grip.