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Silvio Berlusconi ( born 29 September 1936) is an Italian politician, the current Prime Minister of Italy, as well as an entrepreneur. He is also known under the nickname Il Cavaliere (literally, The Knight), due to the knighthood Order of Merit for Labour which he received in 1977.
He is the second longest-serving Prime Minister of Italy, after Benito Mussolini. He held this position on three separate occasions: from 1994 to 1995, from 2001 to 2006 and currently since 2008. Technically, Berlusconi has been sworn in four times because after a cabinet reshuffle, as happened with Berlusconi in 2005, the new ministry is sworn in and subjected to a vote of confidence. He is the leader of the People of Freedom political movement, a centre-right party he founded in 2009. As of November 2009, he is the longest-serving current leader of a G8 country. As of 2011, Forbes magazine has ranked him as the 118th richest man in the world with a net worth of US$7.8 billion. Berlusconi's political rise was rapid and surrounded by controversy. He was elected as a Member of Parliament for the first time and appointed as Prime Minister following the March 1994 parliamentary elections, when Forza Italia gained a relative majority a mere three months after having been officially launched. However, his cabinet collapsed after seven months, due to internal disagreements in his coalition. In the April 1996 snap parliamentary elections, Berlusconi ran for Prime Minister again but was defeated by centre-left candidate Romano Prodi. In the May 2001 parliamentary elections, he was again the centre-right candidate for Prime Minister and won against the centre-left candidate Francesco Rutelli. Berlusconi then formed his second and third cabinets, until 2006.
Berlusconi was leader of the centre-right coalition in the April 2006 parliamentary elections, which he lost by a very narrow margin, his opponent again being Romano Prodi. He was re-elected in the parliamentary elections of April 2008 following the collapse, on 24 January 2008, of Romano Prodi's government and sworn in as prime minister on 8 May 2008 (see also 2008 Italian political crisis).
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