Berlusconi Ally Motion to Halt Senate Ouster Probably Will Fail

A motion to halt expulsion proceedings against Silvio Berlusconi in the Italian Senate probably won’t pass today in a committee vote.

Fourteen of the 23 members on the Senate Committee for Parliamentary Immunities belong to parties that have opposed the request, filed by Senator Andrea Augello of Berlusconi’s People of Liberty. If the motion is defeated in a closed-door meeting at 8:30 p.m., the committee will continue its deliberations for another 10 days before deciding whether to put the matter before the full chamber for a final vote.

Augello’s proposal “is likely to be rejected,” Wolfango Piccoli, an analyst with Teneo Intelligence in London, said in a Sept. 16 research report. “There is still no agreement concerning Berlusconi’s future in politics.”

The career of 76-year-old Berlusconi, a three-time ex-prime minister, was placed in doubt last month when Italy’s top criminal court upheld his conviction for tax fraud. An eventual vote in the chamber to strip Berlusconi of his Senate seat may come before Oct. 15, Senator Stefania Pezzopane, vice chairman of the committee, said last week.

Letta’s Alliance

The wrangling over Berlusconi has threatened Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s government by splitting the ruling parliamentary coalition in two. Lawmakers in People of Liberty, the second-biggest party in Letta’s alliance, have threatened to resign if Berlusconi loses his seat. Letta’s Democratic Party, the largest group in parliament, has said the expulsion is required by law.

Italian 10-year yields rose above those of Spain for the first time in 18 months last week amid speculation a vote to expel Berlusconi would destabilize the coalition government.

Italy’s 10-year yield declined five basis points to 4.40 percent yesterday, dropping more than the rate on similar-maturity Spanish debt, which fell one basis point to 4.40 percent.

Berlusconi is preparing a re-organization of his party and will probably refrain from withdrawing his support from Letta if the vote goes against him today, Corriere Della Sera reported yesterday. The billionaire ex-premier is reluctant to unseat Letta because he could lose in a new election, said Matteo Renzi, the Florence mayor and a candidate for leadership of the Democratic Party.

Prison Sentence

“Berlusconi isn’t going to bring on a vote because he knows we’d pave the road with him,” Renzi said yesterday at a book presentation in Rome.

Berlusconi is unlikely to spend a day jail for the tax fraud verdict. His four-year prison sentence will probably be reduced to one year of house arrest or community service, due in part to leniency guidelines. Berlusconi is appealing separate criminal convictions for illegal use of wiretaps, abuse of office and paying a minor for sex. He has denied all charges, saying the trials amount to political persecution.

The Democratic Party, or PD, is seeking to apply a 2012 anti-corruption law that imposes a six-year ban from public office on people sentenced to more than two years of prison. Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement, the biggest opposition party, has also said the law should be applied to Berlusconi.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Frye in Rome at afrye@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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