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Hastings International and Comparative Law Review

Authors

Brendan Quigley

Abstract

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is Italy's longest serving Prime Minister since the founding of the First Italian Republic in 1946. He is also one of Italy's richest men, owed largely to a vast media empire encompassing private television, film production, publishing, insurance, and banking. In conjunction with this private wealth and influence, the Prime Minister's political clout has afforded him virtually unparalleled power within Italy. Despite the scope of his influence, however, Berlusconi has been a constant subject of legal controversy since his rise to power in the early to mid 1990s. Over the years, he has been accused of corruption, bribery, and ties to organized crime. Since his arrival in office, he has been charged with several instances of illegal conduct in relation to his media empire and other financial holdings. Regardless of the number and nature of the charges and accusations levied against him, Berlusconi has never been firmly convicted. His ability to evade prosecution and conviction is the result of both his own efforts and the inefficiency of the Italian legal system. This note examines Berlusconi's rise to power and his historic and ongoing battle with the Italian Constitutional Court to confer immunity upon himself and other top Italian government officials. Though the Court has largely blocked Berlusconi's legislative attempts at immunity, his uncanny ability to remain in office and out of court highlights not only the scope of his power but also the shortcomings of the Italian judicial and political system.

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