Berlusconi suffers intestinal blockage, undergoes surgery

ROME — Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi has undergone laparoscopic surgery for an intestinal obstruction, raising questions about his campaign for European Parliament elections following a yearslong ban from public office.

Berlusconi's office said the surgery Tuesday was successful and that the 82-year-old media mogul would be released from the hospital in the coming days.

Previously, Berlusconi's office had said he was suffering from acute renal colic, pain often associated with kidney stones. He was hospitalized on the same day he was to present candidates of his Forza Italia party for European Parliament elections May 26.

Berlusconi himself is running, the first time he has been allowed to run for public office following a ban imposed after a 2012 tax fraud conviction. Citing his good conduct, a court last year ruled that he could once again run.

In a statement late Tuesday, Berlusconi's office said he had suffered abdominal pain the night of April 29, and that a scan had revealed a small blockage in the small intestine.

Exploratory surgery identified the volvulus of ileum, a rare but serious cause of small bowel obstruction. Berlusconi's office said the adhesion stemmed from gallbladder surgery 40 years ago.

The three-time premier has suffered heart problems in the past, including surgery in 2016 to repair a heart valve. He has said despite his age, he wanted to run for the European Parliament elections.

It wasn't clear how the latest surgery would affect his campaign.

Berlusconi made sure to release excerpts of the speech he had planned to deliver Tuesday. In them, he railed against the isolationist bent of the current populist government of the right-wing League and the 5-Star Movement. He warned that Italy couldn't confront African migration, Chinese "imperialistic design" and Islamic fundamentalism without European support.

His once-dominant Forza Italia party trails in the polls behind the League, the 5-Stars and the opposition Democratic Party.

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