Forex »

Italy: Berlusconi conviction rattles political landscape

Finances
Share on StockTwits
Published on
www.finances.com
Italy: Berlusconi conviction rattles political landscape

After several decades of cat and mouse with the legal system, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was finally convicted by the Italian Supreme Court and order to serve four years in prison on charges of tax fraud. Berlusconi was found guilty for hiding millions of euros from his media empire in overseas reserve funds. Italy’s highest court upheld its May 8 conviction Thursday, a decision that divided the Italian political system. Due to his age and other amnesty conditions, Berlusconi faces one year under house arrest or community service rather than jail.

The humiliated ex-premier slammed prosecutors Thursday, blaming the outcome on a negative media campaign out to ruin his political legacy. The verdict threatens Italy’s fragile political coalition consisting of Berlusconi’s centre-right Freedom People party and centre-left Democratic party. According to centre-left MP Pippo Civati, “This alliance is now unstable. The [Democratic party] should draw up an exit strategy,” and focus on passing the electoral law before going back to the polls.

Before the verdict Berlusconi loyalists in the People of Freedom party threatened to destabilize the fragile administration, while members of the Democrat party refused to remain in government with a convicted criminal. The outcome of the appeal has deepened Italy’s political crisis, which reached its apex earlier this year after elections left the country divided and practically ungovernable.

Prior to his conviction, Berlusconi had been involved in over 20 court cases throughout his political career. As one of Italy’s most controversial figures, he was found guilty on June 24, 2013 of sex with an underage prostitute and attempting to use his powers in an ensuing cover-up. His seven-year jail sentence also gave him a lifetime ban from public office. The sentence won’t be enforced until the end of his court appeal.

Berlusconi served as Italy’s Prime Minister on three occasions: from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006 and 2008 to 2011. In the February 2013 general election his party captured 125 of 630 Chamber of Deputies seats and 117 of 319 Senate seats, placing second behind the Democrat party.

Share on StockTwits