Senate votes to eject former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
He was convicted of tax fraud involving his Mediaset TV firm
Berlusconi pulled his party out of a coalition government Tuesday
Political wranglings cast a further shadow on Italy's struggling economy
The Italian Senate voted Wednesday to expel former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi from parliament after his conviction for tax fraud. The vote was 192 to 113, with two abstentions.
Analysts had predicted his ouster, with both the center-left Democratic Party and anti-establishment Five-Star Movement promising to vote against the 77-year-old billionaire media tycoon.
The vote follows Berlusconi’s conviction on charges related to a vast tax fraud conspiracy at his Mediaset television empire.
Berlusconi was convicted of tax evasion last October, sentenced to four years in prison and barred from public office for two years. The prison time was later reduced to one year of community service.
The former PM had called on his supporters to protest in Rome ahead of the vote. He even asked senators to delay the ballot, claiming to have new evidence proving he did not commit tax fraud.
Berlusconi, who served on and off as prime minister between 1994 and 2011, has dominated the lively Italian political scene for the past two decades. Despite his expulsion from parliament, he is unlikely to disappear.
“He is not out of politics, he is out of government,” James Walston, chairman of the International Relations Department at the American University of Rome, told CNN. “He will cease being Sen. Berlusconi.”
The former Prime Minister could face other headaches. The expulsion from parliament means losing a partial immunity senators hold from prosecution, and he could face charges in other cases. For years, he has also been entangled in fraud, corruption and sex scandals that have often reached the Italian courts.
At a news conference Tuesday, Berlusconi’s lawyers dismissed as “an absolutely unreal possibility” that he could face further criminal charges for other cases.
Berlusconi was convicted of tax fraud in October last year over deals involving Mediaset, and the verdict was upheld in August.
CNN’s Hada Messia reported from Rome, and Marie-Louise Gumuchian reported from London.