Italian Court Lifts Ban on Berlusconi to Run for Public Office

Published May 13th, 2018 - 11:32 GMT
Silvio Berlusconi, former prime minister can run for public office once again because of an Italian court ruling. (AFP/ File Photo)
Silvio Berlusconi, former prime minister can run for public office once again because of an Italian court ruling. (AFP/ File Photo)
An Italian court has lifted an order banning Silvio Berlusconi from running for public office, paving the way for a comeback for the three-time former prime minister, local media reported on Saturday.

The ban on the 81-year-old media mogul had originally been until 2019 and the court's decision taken on Friday was made a month ahead of schedule, the Corriere Della Sera newspaper added.

Berlusconi gave "effective and constant proof of good conduct" after carrying out his punishment, Italian news agency ANSA quoted tribunal judges as concluding.

Milan Prosecutor General Roberto Alfonso said prosecutors have 15 days to decide if they will appeal the tribunal's decision.

"Silvio Berlusconi can finally return to the playing field," Mara Carfagna, a leader of the ex-premier's Forza Italia party. 

"The 'rehabilitation' by the Milan Surveillance Court puts an end to a judicial persecution and a cavalry that didn't chip away at the strength of great leadership, that, in a profoundly changed political scenario, is today still fundamental and central."

The decision comes as the leaders of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and the far-right League inch closer to a deal for a coalition government, just days after Berlusconi signaled he would not block such an agreement.

Italy's president has warned that if squabbling political leaders fail to form a viable coalition government following an inconclusive parliamentary election in March, he would install a caretaker head of government and seek another vote.

Corriere Della Sera said that a Milan court ordered the immediate "rehabilitation" of Berlusconi on Saturday, which "cancels all the effects" of his 2013 tax fraud conviction -- including a ban on holding elected office.

It means that Berlusconi would be able to again run for prime minister if coalition negotiations fail and new elections are called. But it may be too late as M5S and the League seem to be making headway in their talks. 

A right-wing coalition including the League and Forza Italia party won 37 percent of the vote in March 4 elections, while M5S became Italy's largest single party with nearly 33 percent.
 

However, coalition talks were stalled for two months as M5S insisted the League, which led the right-wing coalition with 17 percent of the vote, ditch Berlusconi and his party.

On Wednesday, Berlusconi seemed to give the green light for the League to go ahead without him, and its leader Matteo Salvini and M5S's Luigi Di Maio are to meet in Milan on Saturday to continue talks.

They may report on their progress as early as Sunday to President Sergio Mattarella, who could then nominate the new prime minister on Monday.

Dubbed "the immortal", Berlusconi dominated Italian politics for more than two decades, and despite scandals, serial gaffes and legal woes, he made an astonishing return from political oblivion for the March vote.

However, coming second to the League in his conservative alliance was a humiliating setback for Berlusconi, who was forced out of parliament in 2013 after being convicted of corporate tax fraud.
 
This article has been adapted from its original source.

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