Berlusconi Expelled From Italian Senate
Silvio Berlusconi has been expelled from the Italian Senate:
ROME — Having spent months manufacturing procedural delays or conjuring political melodrama in hopes of saving himself, Silvio Berlusconi on Wednesday could no longer stave off the inevitable: Italy’s Senate resoundingly stripped him of his parliamentary seat, a dramatic and humiliating expulsion, even as other potential troubles await him.
In the hours before the vote, senators read speeches for or against Mr. Berlusconi, the once powerful former prime minister, who responded with an outdoor rally in central Rome. The day was transformed into a televised, split-screen standoff, with Mr. Berlusconi declaring himself a victim of persecution and pledging to remain a political force, even as the Italian Senate, with a majority of rival politicians, prepared to lower the boom.
His expulsion was confirmed through a series of votes, and after a day of passionate arguments, the reaction in the chamber was striking after the final tally: silence.
“I think we are at a crossroads today,” Gianfranco Casini, a senator, said during the speeches before the vote. “However it goes, a 20-year period is concluded.”
Mr. Berlusconi, 77, is now staring at a cascade of stubborn realities. His removal from the Senate means he is without elective office for the first time in roughly two decades and that he has lost the special immunities awarded to lawmakers.
With other legal cases underway against him — and the possibility that new litigation could be filed — Mr. Berlusconi is now far more vulnerable than when, as prime minister, he seemed virtually untouchable, batting away sex and corruption scandals.
He also is expected to start performing one year of community service for the tax fraud conviction that forms the basis for his removal from the Senate. Moreover, a court in Milan has ruled that Mr. Berlusconi cannot seek any public office for the next two years. For a man who once dominated Italy with a ribald swagger, Mr. Berlusconi is suddenly a sharply reduced figure, having recently watched several longtime lieutenants break away from him.
Determined to show his political viability, Mr. Berlusconi bused in supporters from around Italy for the rally outside his palace in central Rome. Braving the November cold, they waved flags and sang songs hailing their leader.
“It’s just unfair that they would condemn him when Parliament is full of people who are way worse than him, who have avoided taxes, stolen public money and worked against the people,” said Alessandra Abbate, 49, a supporter from Bologna. “This country would be nothing without him.”
Not just the nation of Italy, but the entire world. After all, without him we’d have no idea what a Bunga Bunga Party is.