Berlusconi aide threatens govt collapse

Letta executive in peril over vote to strip ex-premier of seat

Berlusconi aide threatens govt collapse

(see related story) Rome, September 5 - One of Silvio Berlusconi's closest aides on Thursday reiterated that the government will collapse if the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) votes to have the ex-premier stripped of his Senate seat after a tax-fraud conviction. "If the PD does not do its duty to take an in-depth look at the judicial questions and declares that Berlusconi should be stripped of his seat, the government is over," said Francesco Nitto Palma, a senior member of Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party, which has been in a fragile government alliance with its long-term foe, the PD, since April. Nitto Palma is also the president of the Senate justice commission. Berlusconi risks losing his parliamentary seat under the terms of an anti-corruption law approved in 2012, which bans anyone with a conviction like the three-time premier's from holding office for six years. The PdL claims the law is being applied retroactively in Berlusconi's case, although it became effective before his definitive four-year conviction for fraud on film rights on August 1. The PdL says the law is against the Italian Constitution but the PD says it isn't. A Senate panel will start examining the case Monday and is expected to reach its conclusions by the end of the month. A full Senate vote is required to make the ban effective but the PdL says it will not come to that if the PD votes against Berlusconi on the panel, because it would immediately pull out of the unprecedented left-right coalition.

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