Berlusconi announces candidacy for European elections due to "sense of responsibility"

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Berlusconi announces candidacy for European elections due to "sense of responsibility"
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Legendary for a spectrum of reasons across Italian politics, Silvio Berlusconi has announced his candidacy for the European Parliamentary Elections on 26 May.

On a national tour ahead of administrative elections taking place in Italy next month, he told the people of Quartu in Sardinia that he intends to stand.

During his address, the former Italian prime minister said that "his knowledge, experiences, and ability to convince" would allow him to play an important role and "make European citizens understand that we risk moving away from Western values."

The tweet reads: "Live from Sardinia, I announce that I decided to run for the #Europeans to bring my voice to a Europe that has to be changed. A united #centerright can win: with its values and its ideas, it's the future of Italy, of Europe, of the world."

The former Italian prime minister will be standing for the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), which Forza Italia (Berlusconi's party) is a member of.

Antonio Tajani, also an Italian politician who's serving as the President of the European Parliament, is also a member of the EPP. He congratulated Berlusconi in a tweet.

"Excellent news of Berlusconi's candidature for the European Elections! I was sure that he would take the field once again to defend the freedom and right of citizens to get a job and not be harassed by unfair taxes!"

From one scandal to the next, Berlusconi is one of a kind

Berlusconi has been an important figure in Italian politics as three-times prime minister of Italy and at the centre of tax fraud, bribery, and sex scandals.

The Milan-native entered Italian politics when he founded the centre-right Forza Italia party. He won the most votes in the 1994 elections but was prime minister for less than a year due to internal disagreements within his government.

He ran again in 2001 as the head of a centre-right coalition and won against the centre-left candidate Francesco Rutelli. He was in power until 2006 when he lost by a narrow margin.

However, Italian politics would see him come back again in the parliamentary elections of April 2008 and was sworn for the third time as prime minister in May.

But after losing his majority, Berlusconi resigned from his post at the end of 2011.

Berlusconi did not only have a taste for politics; he also built a media empire that kept him busy. During his political career, he kept ownership of Mediaset, the largest media company in Italy.

However, the Italian mogul was involved in a set of scandals that weakened his political career.

In 2012, he was convicted of tax fraud in a case involving the purchase of TV rights to US films by his company Mediaset. He was given a four-year prison sentence (three years were pardoned) and a public office ban for two years. Since he was more than 70 at the time of the conviction, he was exempted from doing his sentence in a prison and instead had to do serve out his sentence doing unpaid social community work.

Berlusconi was also convicted of paying for sex to an underage prostitute and breaching confidentiality over a police wiretap.

In 2013, the Italian Senate voted to expel Berlusconi from parliament, which also meant the controversial Italian politician could not take part in any general election for six years.

Berlusconi also served as president of the AC Milan football club for more than 30 years until it was sold in 2017.