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Berlusconi To Be Expelled From Parliament But Not Without Fight, Analyst And Politician Say

posted 26 Nov 2013, 05:40 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 26 Nov 2013, 05:42 ]

Italian senators are due to vote on whether to expel centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi from parliament on Wednesday with the vote expected to go against the four-time prime minister.

ROME, ITALY (RECENT - NOVEMBER 16, 2013) (REUTERS) -  The Italian Senate is due to vote on Wednesday (November 27) on whether the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi should lose his seat in parliament.

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It comes after Berlusconi was found guilty in August of masterminding a complex and illegal system to reduce the tax bill of his media company Mediaset.

The vote is expected to go against the billionaire media-mogul, with Prime MinisterEnrico Letta's Democratic Party and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement both in favour of his expulsion, said political analyst James Walston of the American University of Rome.

"We can be pretty sure that he will be expelled, that there will be a majority in favour of his expulsion which will be made up of the 5-Star Movement, which will be made up of the other opposition movements, which will be made up of the Democratic Party. And that should mean that from Thursday, Berlusconi is no longer a senator," he said.

As he addressed an assembly of young followers of his centre-right Forza Italia (GoItaly!) party on Saturday, Berlusconi, who has always claimed his innocence, called for a presidential pardon and said his expulsion from parliament in a vote next week would be a "coup d'etat".

Forza Italia Senator Lucio Malan said Wednesday's vote was expected to reflect the Italian senators' personal views as well as party loyalties.

"If the vote is open, of course all the senators of the left will have to vote according to the orders of their leaders. If it is secret, they will vote according to what they think, according to their personal convictions, and it has always been the case in the past that when it is a vote about persons it is secret," he said.

Echoing Berlusconi's words, Malan said the vote went against the Italian laws.

"According to the numbers, he should be voted out. According to the law he should be voted in," he said.

Berlusconi, whose centre-right party is part of Italy's coalition government, has said he may no longer back Prime Minister Enrico Letta if he is kicked out.

But a split in his party just over a week ago has left him without the numbers to bring the government down.

"There was the fear that with Berlusconi's expulsion the government would fall because he would withdraw support. This is not going to happen now because a week ago his party split and Alfano was able to maintain a sufficient number of senators so that the government has support in the senate. The government will be steady, there will be a lot of noise, a lot of froth but it's not going to bring the government down. The government is still at risk but not because of Berlusconi's expulsion," said Walston.

After weeks of tension in the centre-right between those pressing for a break with Letta and those determined to support the government, the split underlined the instability threatening Italy as it grapples with its worst post-war recession.

The Milan court sentenced Berlusconi to four years in prison, commuted to a year under house arrest or in community service.

The four-time prime minister was also handed a seven-year jail sentence in June for abuse of office and paying for sex with a minor during parties he hosted.