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In 1994, Sivlio Berlusconi (1936-) embarked on his political career, and within two months, he had created a new political party, Forza Italia (Forward Italy). In May 1994, Berlusconi took office as prime minister, but stepped down at the end of the year when some members of his center-right coalition left the government amid allegations that he had authorized the payment of bribes while still a private citizen in order to advance his business interests. He remained a major political figure and returned to the prime minister’s office in 2001; he assumed his third term in office on May 8th, 2008. In 2013 he was convicted of tax fraud, but exempted from serving direct prison time due to being over 70 years of age. Under recent anti-corruption laws in Italy, he was banned from serving in any legislative office for six years, but pledged to stay as leader of Forza Italia during the ban. (Adapted from: Neumann, Caryn E. “Berlusconi, Silvio.” The Incredibly Wealthy, edited by Howard Bromberg, vol. 1, Salem Press, 2011).
Sepp Blatter (1936-) was elected president of FIFA in 1998, and subsequently re-elected four times. Despite successes in expanding the participation of African and Asian countries in international tournaments and increasing FIFA World Cup revenues during his tenure, Blatter’s presidency of FIFA has been regularly criticised on grounds of corruption and financial mismanagement, notably the awards of the World Cup to Russia (2018) and Qatar (2022). Blatter was suspended in 2015 after the Swiss General Attorney’s office launched legal action, and was removed from office and banned from participating in FIFA activity for eight years by the FIFA Ethics Committee.
With the recent revelations about corruption in FIFA, The Economist have been vindicated in their coverage of the organization and its long term leader. Long before the corruption within FIFA was revealed to the public, The Economist were watching FIFA’s actions and highlighting controversial practices, from the leadership election process to fraud among the companies they worked with.
William Jefferson (Bill) Clinton (1946-) is a former President of the United States of America, serving in office for the Democratic Party. During his tenure, America saw economic expansion, passed healthcare reform, and financial deregulation measures. The Economist were critical of Clinton following the scandal involving sexual relations with an intern at the White House. The growing accusations that President Clinton had lied led to many—The Economist included—to call for his impeachment. Articles arguing the case appeared, and to drive the point home, they published an article comparing the Clinton impeachment to that of President Andrew Johnson (1808-1875), which was not designed to be advantageous to Clinton. In 1998, Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives for perjury and obstruction of justice over the scandal. He was acquitted in 1999, and despite the scandals, still receives high ratings in public opinion polls.
Taking his place as the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1997, Laurent-Désiré Kabila (1939-2001) was seen as a new breed of African leader. In 1996 Kabila led forces with the aid of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, which began the First Congo War. By the middle of 1997, Kabila’s forces had forced the president into exile, and Kabila proclaimed himself president on May 17th. Uganda and Rwanda eventually turned on him in 1998, starting the Second Congo War. By the time of his assassination, Kabila had fallen from international favour after the two Congo wars. Criticised as being authoritarian, corrupt and abusing human rights, the initial optimism over Kabila had rapidly dissolved. The Economist commented that he “will not be mourned by many”, as his “his path to power was a trail of blood”, having combined authoritarianism with human rights abuses.
Donald Rumsfeld (1932-) is a former Secretary of Defense, serving in the position twice. He also served various other positions, including Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, United States Permanent Representative to NATO, and White House Chief of Staff. He was influential in talks and decision following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and resulting military operations in the Middle East. He drew heavy criticism for his plans, and the motivations for them. The Economist called for the resignation of Rumsfeld following the revelation of prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib. In the fallout from the revelations, The Economist questioned how much Rumsfeld know about the activity at Abu Ghraib, despite his claim that it had been the work of a small minority of soldiers, the knowledge had made it further up the chain of command. Rumsfeld did offer his resignation following the revelations, but the offer was declined, but eventually resigned in 2006 after the ‘Generals Revolt’.
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