Italy Parliament Begins Debating Berlusconi's Political Fate
ROME – Italy's parliament began debate Friday on a motion likely to strip Silvio Berlusconi, the country's controversial media kingpin, of his Senate seat.
Berlusconi, a three-time prime minister, this week abruptly abandoned his plans to topple Italy's government when he made a U-turn and voted to support the government of Prime Minister Enrico Letta. Berlusconi said he opposed Letta based on some reform issues, but most analysts said it was tied to the vote on the Senate seat, which was sparked by Berlusconi's definitive conviction for tax fraud and false accounting in relation to content deals for his Mediaset cinema and television giant.
The actual vote is expected to take place later Friday or over the weekend, and most predict Berlusconi will lose the seat. If that indeed happens, it will represent a new phase in the career of the most dominant figure in Italian politics over the last two decades.
Most expect Berlusconi to attempt to remain involved in Italian politics even without a seat in parliament and while serving a year of house arrest in connection to the tax fraud and false accounting conviction.
Despite the difficult week for Berlusconi, Mediaset investors are evidently pleased by the latest developments. After sinking below the €3.00 ($4.05) level for the first time in two months Monday, the stock gained nearly 9 percent over the rest of the week, trading at €3.25 ($4.39) late in the day Friday.