The Italian centre-right was ‘constructed’ by Silvio Berlusconi in the run-up to the 1994 general election, which marked the beginning of the Second Republic. It includes Forza Italia, the National Alliance, the Northern League and the Union of Christian Democrats (UDC), parties which are all very different in terms of their political identities, histories, geographies and social composition. The centre-right thus looks like a complex mosaic, whose pieces stay together only thanks to the role of the leader and his ‘personal party’, Forza Italia, and to the use of the media and political marketing to communicate with the electorate. These are the twin pillars of ‘the Berlusconi model’. This article contends that Berlusconi represents both a resource and a limit for the centre-right, as it is difficult for such a heterogeneous coalition to define a common identity and pursue coherent political projects and policies while relying so heavily on the role of the leader. This explains the cyclical alternation within the coalition of phases of integration and rapprochement with others of tension and open conflict. Since the coalition's election victory in 2001, it has found it difficult to meet the contrasting demands of its diverse electorate for neo-liberalism, devolution, major public works, infrastructure creation and tax cuts. This task has been made more problematic by the international instability and economic stagnation of recent years. This article puts forward the hypothesis that ‘the Berlusconi model’, which gave life to the centre-right, now appears to be worn out and will prove difficult to revive.