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Expulsion From Parliament Is "Bitter Day Of Mourning" - Berlusconi

posted 27 Nov 2013, 10:51 by Mpelembe   [ updated 27 Nov 2013, 10:52 ]

Italian centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi - who is stripped of his seat in parliament after a tax fraud conviction - says it is a dark day for the country's democracy.

 ROMEITALY (NOVEMBER 27, 2013) (REUTERS) - Italian centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi gave an emotional speech to thousands of supporters on Wednesday (November 27) moments before he was expelled from the Senate.

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Among the cheering crowds, his fiancee Francesca Pascale was seen smiling in the front row.

Addressing the rally organised by his political party Forza Italia, outside his residence in Rome, the 77-year-old media billionaire said it was a dark day for the country's democracy.

"We are here in what is a bitter day, a day of mourning for Italian democracy," said Berlusconi, minutes before the voting to expel him from parliament was expected to begin.

The magistrates and judges who convicted him of committing tax fraud in August were opening the way for a socialist takeover of the country by eliminating him, Berlusconi said.

He pledged not to leave politics minutes before a Senate voted to expel him from parliament.

"We must stay on the field, we must not despair if the leader of the centre-right is not a senator any more. There are leaders of other parties who are not parliamentarians," Berlusconi told a crowd of supporters in central Rome.

The man who has dominated Italian politics for 20 years said he could continue to lead his Forza Italia party from outside parliament.

The vote, after months of political wrangling, opens an uncertain new phase in Italian politics, with Berlusconi preparing to use his extensive resources to attack Prime Minister Enrico Letta's coalition government.

Stripped of his parliamentary immunity from arrest, he is more vulnerable in a series of other cases, where he is accused of offences including political bribery and paying for sex with a minor.

However he no longer commands enough support in parliament to bring down the government, which easily won a confidence vote on the 2014 budget late on Tuesday with the support of around 30 dissidents who split off from Forza Italia this month.