European Debt Crisis

Italy's ex-premier Berlusconi campaigns against populism

Media mogul Silvio Berlusconi jumped into politics a quarter-century ago vowing to save Italy from the communists. Now he's waging a crusade to keep Italian populists out of the government.

To be clear, the 81-year-old Berlusconi cannot seek his fourth premiership or even run for a seat in Parliament in Italy's March 4 election due to a tax fraud conviction.

But he won't let himself be stopped by that — nor by years of sex scandals or a long list of criminal trials. And he is ignoring the toll that time has taken on his body, which has endured heart valve surgery, hair transplants and eyelid tightening.

Berlusconi is out to foil the 5-Star Movement in its goal to...