Silvio Berlusconi is back.
On Monday, the media mogul-turned-politician won Italian elections that will put him in power for a third term as Italy’s Prime Minister.
His opponent, former Rome mayor Walter Veltroni, conceded defeat Monday evening, following two days of polling, saying, “The result is clear: the center-right will govern.”
Berlusconi’s conservative bloc has 166 seats in the upper house against 138 for opponent Veltroni’s center-left force, according to a projection aired Monday evening by pubcaster RAI.
In the lower house, Berlusconi has an estimated 340 seats against 290.
Pundits say the projections point to a solid margin for the billionaire TV tycoon who controls top Italian commercial group Mediaset and a host of other media interests, including movie company Medusa and publisher Mondadori.
Berlusconi, 71, will head Italy’s 62nd government in the 63 years since the end of World War II.
Berlusconi, who entered the Italian political arena 14 years ago, has already governed Italy twice.
His last stint, between 2001 and 2006, marked Italy’s longest postwar government.
At the time, Berlusconi came under fire for enacting allegedly tailor-made laws that boosted Mediaset’s results and alleviated his many legal woes. Critics also charged he used his power to influence news coverage at pubcaster RAI and to meddle with its management policy.
After Berlusconi’s 2006 defeat by economist Romano Prodi, many thought his political career was over.
But Prodi’s shaky coalition fell in January, paving the way for this unexpected comeback.
Veltroni, 52, who launched the Rome Film Festival and has friends in Hollywood including Tom Cruise and George Clooney, will now head Italy’s opposition.