The death of Silvio Berlusconi on Monday brought to an end one of the longest, most consequential and colorful eras in Italian politics, with both ardent admirers and die-hard critics marking a life of outsized influence as something that split contemporary Italian history into the before and after.
From his origins as a real estate and media mogul, Mr. Berlusconi, who was 86 when he died, became the most dominant personality on the theatrical Italian landscape. He revolutionized not only Italian politics, but also its sport, daily life, image of itself and popular culture — all through his privately owned television channels — leaving an imprint, or a bruise, on almost everything he touched.
“Goodbye Silvio,” Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said in a statement about her coalition partner, calling him “one of the most influential men in Italian history.” He will receive a state funeral in Milan’s Duomo on Wednesday.
Even in death, Mr. Berlusconi had the power to potentially destabilize the political universe and Ms. Meloni’s governing coalition, of which his party, Forza Italia, is a small but critical linchpin.