Senate panel opts for open vote on Berlusconi ejection
Ex-premier risks being stripped of seat after tax-fraud ruling30 October, 17:12
The PD, in particular, had been pressing for the vote to be open to avoid possible 'sniping' such as that which sank ex-premier Romano Prodi's bid to become president after February's inconclusive elections, where the PD came first, the PdL a narrow second, and M5S third.
PdL lawmakers, who back Berlusconi's claim he is the victim of left-leaning elements in the judiciary that are persecuting him for political reasons, cried foul at the break with tradition for such votes to be secret.
"On the eve of Halloween, the Senate panel has improvised a Jacobin sabbath, an incredible witch hunt with the same old target - Silvio Berlusconi", said PdL MP Riccardo Mazzoni.
Some centre-right MPs called for the PdL to break off its alliance with the PD.
But Premier Enrico Letta said he was confident his government would hold after Berlusconi failed in a bid to scupper his executive earlier this month.
On that occasion a mutiny by pro-government PdL members, led by Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, forced Berlusconi to make an embarrassing U-turn and call on his party to vote in favour of a confidence motion in the government.
Berlusconi had called on the premier to intervene in his favour by arguing that the anti-corruption law would be applied retroactively if used in his case, allegedly against the Italian Constitution. The supreme court's ruling on the tax fraud case came in August, long after the 2012 corruption law came into force, but the original conviction predates it. "It's necessary to separate individual judicial affairs from the action of the government," Letta said on Italian radio Wednesday before the Senate panel opted for an open vote. "The response (to Berlusconi's appeal for intervention) is contained in the confidence vote of October 2".