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Berlusconi to fight another day?

Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 - 02:11

Nov 28 - The expulsion of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi from the Italian senate over tax fraud opens a new phase of uncertainty for Italy - and for Berlusconi. The 77-year-old billionaire is vowing to lead his rightist party from outside parliament despite still facing legal charges. David Pollard reports.

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He doesn't have the appearance of a man on his way out. Perhaps that was the intention of this rally by Berlusconi's Forza Italia party. A show of enthusiasm by party faithful - against - and shortly before confirmation of - parliament's decision to expel him. SOUNDBITE (Italian) ITALIAN CENTRE-RIGHT LEADER, SILVIO BERLUSCONI, SAYING: "We are here in what is a bitter day, a day of mourning for Italian democracy." The day after's newspapers quote the Italian leader quoting Terminator: I'll be back. Berlusconi has hogged the spotlight for twenty years. Now he faces an uncertain future - and possible arrest over other charges, including sex with an underage partner. But he says he can still rule his party - from outside parliament if necessary. Some European investors would prefer to see the back of him. Mike Ingram of BGC Partners SOUNDBITE (English) Mike Ingram, Market Strategist, BGC Partners, saying: "Berlusconi's foray into politics over the last decade and a half has been an unmitigated disaster for Italy. If only he'd pursued reform as fervently as he tried to legislate himself out of jail, then Italy would be in much better position." Italian bond yields - a barometer of the cost of borrowing - have come down on the decision. A signal, maybe, that investor confidence is returning. Even if, as Jeremy Stretch of CIBC says, not much has changed. SOUNDBITE (English) Jeremy Stretch, Head of FX Strategy, CIBC, saying: "Clearly, the ability of the coalition to push through the necessary structural reforms remains evidently compromised by its weak state of affairs, its weak position, and I think that's probably going to be the defining factor going forward. It's the inability to push through the reforms. " Uncertain future or not, Berlusconi will be remembered for a colourful, if not politically correct, past. Over the years a series of gaffes have sometimes scandalised, sometimes amused. Never afraid to push his way to the front.... His fondness for women intruding into even the highest-level meetings. Despite a seemingly massive blow, Berlusconi has his fans asking: is this the wave of man saying good-bye - or merely 'I'll be seeing you'.

Berlusconi to fight another day?

Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 - 02:11

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