Berlusoni lost his seat in the Senate because he was convicted of tax fraud. His supporters call it "the end of democracy" and Berlusconi himself wants to appeal the court ruling.
"I'm not leaving politics," said Silvio Berlusconi the day after he was forced out of the Italian senate. On Wednesday (27.11.2013) 192 senators ousted Berlusconi in a public vote. But he shows no signs of resignation or capitulation. On the contrary, with his lips defiantly pressed together and bigger shoulder pads than ever Berlusconi meets the press to lament the outrageousness of the procedure. Although in a democratic system it is not uncommon that a convicted criminal has to leave office.
But Italian democracy is different, especially in the case of Berlusconi. He knew that he is not invincible but he did not want to believe it. And still his sense of reality is clouded. There has to be a revision of his process because there is "new evidence" for his innocence, he said. He called the demonstrations of his supporters in Rome just the beginning of his fight to return to politics. He even wants to become prime minister again. His party "Forza Italia" demands new elections and wants Berlusconi as its frontrunner.
But the 77-year-old is not allowed to run for parliament in the next six years, according to a law from December 31, 2012, which the representatives of his party also voted for. Berlusconi wants to follow Pepe Grillo's example. The former comedian leads his Five-Star-Movement without having a seat in parliament.
The media coverage has been huge. Berlusconi dominates the headlines yet again. After 20 years in Italian politics, his time is up - columnists are either overjoyed or dismayed, depending on which side they are on. Hardly any Italian politician divides public opinion to the extent Berlusconi has done.
In Milan, Berlusconi's hometown, people are calm. "It was to be expected," said a smartly dressed man on his way to work. "Overdue," said Gianluca, a bartender at Bar Checco while he puts the used espresso cups in the dishwasher. He and his colleagues are happy about the decision, "because Berlusconi cheated the state while ordinary people had to pay."
People are relaxed
Talk on the streets of Italy revolves more around the economic crisis and football results than about Berlusconi's future. Only vocal opponents of Berlusconi admit that "they got up with a smile today." Robert Magnotti, student of architecture, is "amused" by Berlusconi's rallying calls. It will be interesting to see what will come from Mediaset, Berlusconi's media empire. Of course, Berlusconi uses his TV channels to create the image of someone who's been persecuted and victimized. But the Italians have known him for more than 20 years and he always uses the same tactic.
The German entrepreneur Axel Kaiser, whose company's headquarters are in Tuscany, says Italy has wasted the last 20 years instead of increasing its competitiveness. He hopes that this will change now.
Marella Paffi, a woman in her 50s, calls Berlusconi's appearance grotesque and hopes that Italian politics will return to reason and seriousness.
Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta feels strengthened by Berlusconi's ouster and Forza Italia's withdrawal from the government coalition. But he wants to stick to the agreements, which enabled the 'grand coalition' of left and right-wing parties. The Italian parliament is busy discussing the stability pact, the reforms of the welfare state and tax reductions.
Since yesterday, the government has been able to count on one more voice. Ulisse Di Giacomo, Berlusconi's successor in the senate who was elected for "The People of Freedom" party, declared that he will not join Berlusconi's Forza Italia. Instead he joins the Nuovo Centro Destra (New Center-Right) of interior minister Angelino Alfano.