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From the moment Silvio Berlusconi entered politics in 1994, the

conflict of interest issue has rarely been off the political agenda.

Yet when he returned to power in 2001, the dilemma posed by his

occupancy of Palazzo Chigi was almost exactly the same as it had

been seven years earlier. Much had been said and written on the

subject in the intervening period by politicians, lawyers and academics.

Numerous bills on the regulation of conflicts of interest

were introduced in both subsequent Parliaments. In April 1998, a

bill with very broad cross-party support was agreed upon by the

Chamber of Deputies, and very late in the day, and with important

amendments from the Chamber version, one was approved,

on a far more partisan basis, by the Senate in February 2001.