April 30, 2019
By Sara Rossi
MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s elderly former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi will be released from the hospital in the coming days after undergoing an operation due to a bowel obstruction, his political party said in a statement on Tuesday.
The 82-year-old media tycoon was forced to miss a political event on Tuesday held by the Forza Italia (Go Italy) party, which he is standing with in next month’s European Parliament election.
Berlusconi has faded as a political force since being forced to quit as prime minister in 2011, but still leads the conservative Forza Italia.
Though dogged by health concerns in recent years, and undergoing open heart surgery in 2016, Berlusconi has never indicated he is ready to retire from politics and is atop of Forza Italia’s list for the European elections on May 26.
The party initially described Berlusconi’s problem as renal colic, a severe pain caused by kidney stones.
But later on Tuesday, it clarified that he had a bowel occlusion that required an operation which was performed successfully.
Forza Italia said after the operation that Berlusconi was in good condition and will leave the hospital in the coming days.
Berlusconi’s family holding group Fininvest controls Italy’s largest commercial broadcaster group Mediaset.
In a flat market, Mediaset shares closed with a 1.26 percent gain, below the 3 percent rise notched soon after Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera website first reported Berlusconi was in hospital.
The flamboyant Berlusconi has been prime minister four times in a political career beset by corruption and sex scandals. He says he is the victim of leftist magistrates and has constantly defied his many enemies to overcome legal and health setbacks and return to frontline politics.
His bid for a European Parliament seat is his first run at public office since being found guilty of tax fraud in 2013.
Berlusconi campaigned for Forza Italia in last March’s national election, but said his inability to stand as a candidate hurt its chances and for the first time the party trailed the League, by 14 percent of the vote to 17.35 percent.
(Additional reporting by Valentina Za and Crispian Balmer, Francesco Guarascio and Elvira Pollina; writing by Giselda Vagnoni; editing by Mark Bendeich, Andrew Cawthorne and G Crosse)