Domenica, 21 Ottobre 2018
ROME

PdL says govt will fall if panel votes on Berlusconi Tuesday

English
© ANSA

Rome, September 9 - Silvio Berlusconi's People of
Freedom (PdL) party has said Premier Enrico Letta's government
will fall if a Senate panel votes later on Tuesday against
petitions it has presented objecting to a move to strip the
centre-right leader of his parliamentary seat.
The panel is looking at ejecting three-time premier
Berlusconi from the Senate after the supreme court last month
upheld a four-year tax-fraud conviction - three years of which
have been commuted due to an amnesty - making it definitive.
On Monday a PdL Senator presented three motions calling for
the decision on Berlusconi's parliamentary status to be put on
hold.
Berlusconi risks losing his Senate seat under the terms of
an anti-corruption law approved in 2012, which the PdL says is
unconstitutional.
After a heated meeting on Monday of the panel, on which
members of the centre-right PdL are a minority, its president
said a vote on the three petitions would take place late
Tuesday.
The PdL says this means the panel is rushing a decision on
highly technical legal matters.
Letta's centre-left Democratic Party (PD) has said it
intends to vote for Berlusconi to be stripped of his status as
Senator on the panel and so have representatives of the
anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S).
The PD and the PdL are traditional foes but they were
forced to form a grand coalition in April to make Letta's
executive possible and end two months of deadlock after
February's inconclusive general election.
The PdL has repeatedly said it will not be able to continue
the alliance if the PD votes for its leader to be turfed out of
parliament.
"If the Democratic Party, together with the M5S, decides
this evening to vote against the petitions, the Democratic Party
will cause the Letta government to fall," PdL House whip Renato
Brunetta told state broadcaster Rai.
"Either the panel is a body of jurisprudence, in which case
it should take its time to have doubts, and read and evaluate
the documents; or it behaves in a political way.
"If it decides to behave in a political way and take
Berlusconi out of political life, in a political way, outside
the realm of the law and the Constitution, outside the doubts
that have been expressed, it is obviously taking a political
decision.
"This would break the alliance and, at this stage, the PD
would sent the Letta government packing".
A full Senate vote is required to make the ban effective
but the PdL says it will not come to that if the PD votes
against Berlusconi on the panel.
The PdL claims the anti-corruption law is being applied
retroactively in Berlusconi's case, although it became effective
before his definitive conviction for fraud on film rights for
his Mediaset empire on August 1.
The PdL says the offences for which Berlusconi was
convicted took place before the law was passed, and so it is
being applied retroactively, which they say is against the
Italian Constitution.
The PD has dismissed arguments from jurists sympathetic to
the PdL as "quibbling" and says the law must be applied to
Berlusconi as it would be to anyone else.
Berlusconi has appealed to Italy's Constitutional Court and
the European Court of Human Rights against the ban from the
tax-fraud conviction, which he blames, like his many other
cases, on persecution by magistrates he says are left-wing.
Letta said Monday that he was hopeful the PdL would "decide
for the best" and not sink the government, with the country
still not out of its longest recession in over two decades.
But the premier also warned at the weekend that he would
not "tread water" at the helm of government and would only
continue if the parties gave him enough support to effectively
wield power.

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