Politics in Italy have an extensive history of being controversial, complicated and tense. In the 21st Century, there may have been no more polarizing figure in Italian politics than Silvio Berlusconi.

Berlusconi has been the country's prime minister on three separate occasions. Aside from politics, he would also become a significant player in business and sports in Italy. But his behavior has also drawn criticism, intensely so. Berlusconi is considered by many to be an authoritarian and is, in fact, a convicted criminal. In recent years, he has been reported to have several health issues.

An announcement of leukemia

Silvio Berlusconi has leukemia, indicates the BBC and CNN. The news comes following earlier reports that he'd been hospitalized in the intensive care Unit. Evidently at San Raffaele Hospital in his native city of Milan. Berlusconi is the second former prominent world leader to announce a cancer diagnosis in a few days. He is following former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Berlusconi was initially hospitalized on April 5 after having struggles with breathing. It would turn out to be a lung infection, reportedly thought to be in connection with leukemia. Leukemia is a form of blood cancer that frequently occurs in the bone marrow. Those with the disease have an increased chance of other health issues, including infections.

It marks at least the second time Berlusconi has been diagnosed with cancer. In the previous case, it was prostate cancer.

Berlusconi has been associated with various political parties. He was elected to Italy's Chamber of Deputies in 1994 and almost immediately became prime minister. His first tenure as prime minister was brief.

But he would return to the office twice more.

Owned one of Italy's most famous soccer teams

Silvio Berlusconi began his professional career working in construction. He later ventured into media, including starting the television channel Canale 5. Berlusconi also started the mass media brand Mediaset and the holding company Fininvest.

Berlusconi was the longtime owner of A.C. Milan. A.C. Milan is among the most storied soccer franchises in the world. And the club did reach great success during Berlusconi's tenure. He won eight championships in Serie A, Italy's highest level of professional soccer. A.C. Milan also won five titles in what is now the UEFA Champions League and the 2007 FIFA Club World Cup. Berlusconi sold the team in 2017.

A year after, Berlusconi took ownership of A.C. Monza. At the time, the club competed in Serie C, the third tier of Italian soccer. A.C. Monza would win the Serie C Championship in 2020, moving them to Serie B. They have since reached Serie A.

Was convicted of tax fraud

Silvio Berlusconi has been linked to several crimes over the years.

In 2013, he was convicted on a charge of tax crimes. He has also been found guilty of a variety of other crimes. But would avoid punishment due to a series of technicalities. Berlusconi also faces other ongoing legal issues. While others have been acquitted or dropped as time has gone on.

Ordinarily, Berlusconi's tax conviction would result in a sentence of four years in incarceration. However, he was deemed exempt and instead was given community service. He was also temporarily banned from holding public office. After the ban was lifted, in 2022 he won a seat in the Italian Senate of the Republic.