Silvio Berlusconi was removed from the Italian Senate on Wednesday at the age of 77, The New York Times reports. His fellow senators made the vote after days of arguments and speeches for and against Berlusconi’s presence in Italy’s Senate. Berlusconi, once the Italian prime minister, held a rally in Rome, but to no avail.
More than job satisfaction has been lost with his position though: Upon removal, Berlusconi lost the legal shield afforded government officials in Italy, and he now faces a number of legal woes. When he was prime minister, Berlusconi faced embarrassment over sex and corruption scandals but easily avoided legal issues due to his immunity.
Now it is likely that he will begin community service as punishment for a tax fraud conviction. While the ex-senator insists he’s not gone from politics, a Milan court has ruled that Berlusconi can’t be elected to another public office for at least two years. He has also been sentenced to a year in prison, cut down from a possible four-year sentence, according to Reuters report.
“It is a bitter day, a day of mourning for democracy,” Berlusconi said in a speech to supporters, according to The New York Times. “We are here, will be here, and will stay here. Let’s not despair if the leader of the center-right is no longer a senator.”
Alessandra Abbate, a Berlusconi supporter, told The New York Times: “It’s just unfair that they would condemn him when Parliament is full of people who are way worse then him, who have avoided taxes, stolen public money, and worked against the people. This country would be nothing without him.”
Berlusconi has been fighting to retain his position, support, and power for a while now, but his party support has fizzled and splintered off into too many pieces. Reuters notes that it is likely Berlusconi will continue political commentary via blogging and public meeting attendance.
In a particularly ironic occurrence, Berlusconi voted for the very measure that is behind his expulsion from the Senate, a law that says politicians cannot be in Parliament after being convicted of any notable criminal offenses, passed just a year ago.