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Italian Senate Panel Recommends Expelling Silvio Berlusconi

Former Prime Minister and leader of Forza Italia, Silvio Berlusconi speaks on Wednesday at the Senate in Rome.
Filippo Monteforte
AFP/Getty Images
Former Prime Minister and leader of Forza Italia, Silvio Berlusconi speaks on Wednesday at the Senate in Rome.

Silvio Berlusconi, the controversial, larger-than-life Italian politician and media mogul, is one step closer to the end of his political career.

Today, a senate panel recommended stripping the former prime minister of his senate seat. The New York Times reports:

"The expulsion vote against Mr. Berlusconi, based on his recent tax fraud conviction, represents his second setback of the week, after his failed attempt to bring down the country's fragile coalition government. The full Senate will probably decide by the end of the month whether to expel Mr. Berlusconi, though a vote against him is now considered very likely.

"Mr. Berlusconi, 77, a former prime minister and billionaire media mogul, who once wielded power with a swagger, had fought for weeks to prevent the expulsion vote. Many analysts say his effort to topple the government was partly intended to interrupt or delay the proceedings against him in the Senate. But a mutiny of his center-right supporters forced him to make a public reversal and support the government in a parliamentary confidence vote."

The Financial Times puts it in much more dire terms. It quotes a loyalist, a member of parliament who met Berlusconi after Thursday's defeat, giving up on him.

"Silvio Berlusconi is dead," she told the paper. "He is at the end of the road. One of his greatest fears now is ending up in prison."

Remember, aside from his tax fraud conviction, Berlusconiwas also found guilty in a sex-for-hire case.

The BBC reports that if he is expelled, it would be a huge blow "to his prestige" and, perhaps most importantly, would "leave him open to the possibility of arrest in some of ongoing trials as he loses the protection afforded to parliamentarians."

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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