Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, convicted of tax fraud, Threatens to Topple Letta If Expelled From Senate

Silvio Berlusconi threatened to bring down the Italian government if Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s Democratic Party votes to expel the three-time former premier from the Senate.

“We’re not available to keep the government going if the left decides to prevent the head of the People of Liberty from remaining in politics,” Berlusconi told a rally organized by the Army of Silvio supporters’ association late yesterday, according to a statement released by the group.

Letta is struggling to contain tensions that have strained his coalition government since Italy’s top court upheld Berlusconi’s tax-fraud conviction on Aug. 1. The Democratic Party, the biggest force in the coalition, has said Berlusconi’s expulsion from the Senate is required by an anti-corruption law enacted in December 2012.

Berlusconi softened his rhetoric today, saying he “didn’t issue an ultimatum” and that he wants the government to continue to govern. Yet in comments broadcast by SkyTG24, he said it’s “absurd” to assume that the People of Liberty would remain in Letta’s coalition if the Democratic Party forced his removal from the Senate.

What About Never?

Bloomberg notes “The process to strip Berlusconi of his Senate seat may take weeks or months before an eventual vote in the full chamber is called.”

The Letta coalition would immediately dissolve if  Berlusconi carried out his threat. The best way to make sure he doesn’t is to not have a vote. The second best way would be to have a vote and decide that tax fraud is insufficient grounds to expel someone from the Senate in spite of the law.

Either way, there is justice for politicians (and bankers), and there is justice for everyone else.

In general, this is the way it is everywhere, but most countries draw the line at conviction. Italy doesn’t.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock