The state funeral for former Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi will take place in Milan this afternoon. National mourning is also ordered in Italy – a step that is not entirely uncontroversial.
Around 2,000 guests are expected at the funeral service for Silvio Berlusconi in Milan Cathedral – around 20,000 supporters of the deceased are likely to follow the ceremony on the square in front of the cathedral.
The law stipulates that as ex-prime minister he will have a state funeral paid for with tax money. However, national mourning on the day of the funeral is unusual. In the past three decades, only two prime ministers have received this honor: Giovanni Leone and Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, who, however, had also been presidents before their deaths.
The national mourning, with flags being lowered to half-mast, is causing debates in Italy: Former Social Democratic Minister Maria Rosaria Bindi described this as “inappropriate”.
federal government can be represented
Guests from politics, business, sport and society will take part in the service in the world-famous Milan Cathedral – including Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and almost all members of their cabinet.
State and government representatives from other countries are also invited. According to media reports, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani from Qatar and Iraqi President Abdul Latif Raschid have announced that they will be mourners as well.
The EU Commission is represented by Economics Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni – the German Federal Government by Ambassador Viktor Elbling.
Berlusconi shaped Italy
Berlusconi died on Monday of complications from leukemia. The founder of the right-wing conservative party “Forza Italia” had shaped public life in Italy for decades in various roles – not only as head of government and party, but also as media mogul and long-time owner of the football club AC Milan.
Berlusconi was Italy’s prime minister for a total of more than nine years, longer than anyone else since World War II. In 2013 he had to temporarily resign from all offices when he was convicted of tax fraud. Last year, however, he was again drawn into the Italian parliament as a senator.
With information from Jörg Seisselberg, ARD Studio Rome
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