Italy Senate Panel Delays Vote on Berlusconi’s Expulsion

An Italian Senate panel that must decide whether to expel former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi delayed a vote on the issue after its first review today.

“We will meet again tomorrow at 8 p.m.,” the panel head Dario Stefano told reporters in Rome after the five-hour meeting. The 23-member panel will keep discussing legal and procedural issues outlined in a report presented today by Senator Andrea Augello of Berlusconi’s People of Liberty Party or PDL, Stefano also said.

Berlusconi’s possible expulsion following his definitive conviction for tax fraud last month threatens to fracture Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s coalition. On Aug. 30 Berlusconi said that the PDL may withdraw its support for the government if the senators of Letta’s Democratic Party vote to oust the former premier from Parliament.

Lawyers for Berlusconi appealed to the Strasbourg-based Court of Human rights to review an Italian law passed in December that bans convicted politicians from remaining in office or running for election. The appeal may affect the decision on the expulsion, panel member Lucio Malan of Berlusconi’s party told reporters earlier today.

A key vote on the expulsion in the committee may take place tomorrow, Stefano said. The full Senate will then have the final word on the matter.

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