Poll: As Potential Crisis Looms, Italians Want Berlusconi to Go
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Nearly three-quarters of Italians think ex-prime minister Silvio Berlusconi should be barred from the Senate after a conviction for tax fraud, and a majority want to avert a government crisis over the issue, according to a poll.
The issue threatens the survival of the fragile ruling coalition because Berlusconi's supporters have threatened to pull out of Prime Minister Enrico Letta's left-right government if Berlusconi loses his seat.
The full upper house is expected to vote next month on whether to expel Berlusconi, a billionaire media tycoon who has served as prime minister four times, Reuters reported.
A cross-party Senate committee is expected to continue sitting next week before voting on whether to start expulsion proceedings, which would end with a full vote on the floor of the Senate.
According to a poll by the SWG institute for the state television station RAI, 73 percent of Italians asked said they believed the Senate should vote to expel Berlusconi.
Sixty percent of those asked in the poll said the center-right should continue to support Letta's government for the good of the country even if Berlusconi is booted out.
The poll indicated that center-right voters were split almost down the middle about what to do if Berlusconi is ousted.
Fifty-two percent of center-right voters said the bloc should withdraw its support for Letta, potentially forcing him to resign. But 45 percent said they should continue to support him and 3 percent were undecided.
Letta has repeatedly said that a government crisis in the current tough economic circumstances would be irresponsible.
Italy is struggling to control its 2 trillion euro public debt, and the drawn-out impasse over Berlusconi's fate has hurt efforts to reform the euro zone's third-largest economy.