Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi remains unbowed and defiant after being expelled from parliament.
The media billionaire is vowing to continue leading his Forza Italia party and has pledged to use all his extensive resources to attack the country’s coalition government.
“We must stay on the field, we must not despair if the leader of the centre-right is not a senator any more. There are leaders of other parties who are not parliamentarians,” Berlusconi said in an address to his supporters.
There had been little doubt the Senate would vote to throw Berlusconi out over his conviction for tax fraud.
Even so, humiliation of a foe was still bitter sweet for some. Five Star Senator Maurizio Buccarella spoke for many:
“In the Senate, even those like us that were pushing for Berlusconi’s expulsion, we all understood that it was a sad moment, for the man, although he reaped the fruits of what he sowed. But it was a sad moment for Italy, because this moment should have come already many years’ ago.”
Reaction on the street has been mixed but for some Berlusconi will always be popular.
One loyalist said, “They are persecuting Berlusconi, they are being vindictive, it’s not right. He’s been a politician for 20 years, and he governed well.”
But for another, Berlusconi’s going was a relief: “Firstly, finally Italy is free, but it’s too late, it’s embarrassing.”
Without doubt Berlusconi is a divisive figure, but despite his support he has now been politically wounded and has yet more criminal trials to face.