Italy: day of reckoning for Berlusconi

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Italy: day of reckoning for Berlusconi

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Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi will learn today if he is to be barred from public office.

The 76-year-old was convicted of inflating prices at his media empire Mediaset.

Today, Italy’s highest court will decide whether to uphold his sentence of four years in prison and a five-year ban from public office.

James Walstom, a professor of Italian and comparative politics at the American University of Rome says it won’t be a simple process.

“He will not go to jail, but much worse for him is whether he is barred from holding public office. And that again will not happen immediately, but could happen over the next year or so if his conviction is upheld. Berlusconi’s power remains because he has huge influence and huge wealth, many favours he can call in – so he will not go away immediately,” Walstom said.

If Berlusconi is banned from office, it could throw Italy’s fragile coalition government into crisis; it relies on the support of the People of Liberty (PDL) party, led by Berlusconi.