Senate to vote on Berlusconi’s expulsion

Indications suggest majority will vote to expel the media tycoon

 Berlusconi claims  his expulsion would represent “a mortal wound for Italian democracy”. Photograph: EPA/Luigi Mistrulli

Berlusconi claims his expulsion would represent “a mortal wound for Italian democracy”. Photograph: EPA/Luigi Mistrulli

Wed, Nov 27, 2013, 01:00

Today is “D Day” in the Italian Senate for former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. The “D” stands for “decadenza” or the expulsion of the centre right leader from the upper house in the wake of his Supreme Court conviction in August for tax fraud by his Mediaset TV firm.

In what will be an open ballot, all the indications suggest that a majority of the Senate, perhaps 180 against 120, will vote to expel the media tycoon That majority should be guaranteed by the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), the M5S protest movement, the ultra-left SEL and various “centrists”.

Voting against the expulsion will be Mr Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, the breakaway centre-right NCD party, the Northern League and a variety of ex-Christian Democrat “centrists”.

That is the theory behind what is sure to be another dramatic day in parliament. However, given Mr Berlusconi’s well-established ability for lobbying, not to mention Houdini acts, surprises cannot be excluded.


Spirited defence
Mr Berlusconi, who has chosen not to attend today’s session, spent yesterday mounting a typically aggressive and spirited last-minute defence. As he made his rounds of the media – often owned by himself – Mr Berlusconi claimed that his expulsion would represent “a mortal wound for Italian democracy”.

The media tycoon prompted an angry PD response when he confirmed that Forza Italia would be holding a “legal and peaceful” demonstration today in protest against the expulsion, adding: “I believe this will be just the beginning.”

PD justice spokesman Danilo Leva accused Mr Berlusconi of using “ever more violent tones” as he attempted to “work people up against the court’s ruling”.

M5S senator Michele Giarruso, confirming that his party would vote for the expulsion, said: “Outside of Italy, no one can understand how all this can be possible. Basically, you have to respect the court rulings and the laws of the land, something which this gentleman [Berlusconi] has failed to do for the last 20 years”

Today’s expulsion vote comes under the terms of legislation introduced last year by the Mario Monti government, calling for anyone sentenced to more than two years in prison to be “immediately” removed from parliament.