As the most dominant Italian politician of his time, Silvio Berlusconi has introduced important innovations in many fields of Italian politics: new ideological approaches, new coalition strategies, new campaign methods and a new leadership style and language. All of these innovations have had a considerable impact both on his party and the wider political system, and the governmental program, as well as on the nature of Italian democracy (Paolucci C. 2006, 163). These new ideas and methods began emerging in Italy in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but they only displayed themselves fully with Forza Italia (Power Italy), founded in 1993, and the strongest organisation in the political alliance which Berlusconi has established. The purpose of the following pages is to account for the success of Silvio Berlusconi in Italian politics since the political crisis of the early 1990s. Several factors have created this success. First to be successful a new party has to persuade the electorate that they are beset by serious social patterns, to which it alone has the answer, and Berlusconi has done this by underlining the crisis of the First Republic. Second, the party has to make its policy proposals attractive by including some appealing campaign themes such as tax reductions for everyone. Third, it must build up and assert its own identity.
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[...] What accounts for the success of Silvio Berlusconi in Italian politics since the political crisis of the early 1990s? Collapse of the First Republic Until the 1980s, the political space occupied by the centre right was essentially confined to that occupied by the neo-fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano, a party whose share of the vote had never exceeded 6.8 per cent (Newell J 88). The situation changed profoundly in the 1990s with the crisis of the First Republic, a crisis that had become intertwined with the explosive emergence of the so-called “northern question” (Newell J 88; Gundle S. [...]
[...] Berlusconi is treated in Forza Italia as a special leader with a special mission which is the achievement of new Italian miracle”, which only his personality, due to special qualities certified by his business success, will be able to accomplish (Paolucci C 169). It is therefore important that Berlusconi would project an image of reassurance, of the successful man promising the miracle of salvation (Paolucci C 169). The modalities of candidate and party recruitment and selection are such that appointment to the party's highest posts is entirely at the discretion of the leader who, his capacity of leader, chooses mainly people who are either employees of his firm or close friends or business associates. [...]
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[...] This media battle began because the most important private television group (media giant Fininvest) is in the hands of a single political figure Berlusconi, who understood that for many voters television is the main source of political information and identification (Paolucci C 452). Berlusconi's dual status as political leader and media mogul has not only created a conflict of interest between his public and private roles, but more importantly, as a result of the 2001 election outcome, it has created an enormous concentration of power and conflict of interests (Ginsborg P 37-53). [...]
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