'Berlusconi will always be our leader'

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Supporters of Silvio Berlusconi wave "Forza Italia" outside his private residence in Rome. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
19:15 CET+01:00
Supporters of Silvio Berlusconi mourned his expulsion from parliament on Wednesday, with one declaring: "This is not finished!"

Annamaria Maura was overcome with emotion after hearing Italian senators expelled the three-time former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi due to his criminal conviction for tax fraud, in a momentous round of voting.

Speaking to The Local from outside the parliament building in Rome, she said: "We are in a dictatorship of communists, this is not finished!"

Her friend, who chose not to give her name, said "Berlusconi will always be our leader!"

Sergio Costanz, who had travelled 600km from Calabria, said "this is a grand injustice, not only against Berlusconi but against all Italians."

Thousands of Berlusconi's fans travelled to Rome from all over Italy in a show of support, with waving Forza Italia flags and holding candle-lit vigils behind held outside his Rome residence. 

"I'm here because Berlusconi is a great man," said one supporter, who did not wish to provide his name.

"He's done great things for Italy and there is no truth in the conviction. He wants the best for Italy."

Another supporter, Serafino Liverani, believes left-wing politicians are incapable of combatting unemployment - which hit an all-time high of 12.5 percent in October - but Berlusconi can.

"I'm for Berlusconi because he was a businessman before a politician," said Liverani, adding that there is a "mafia against him in the judicial system and public administration."

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Other Italians, however, were less forgiving. "If someone's guilty, they should pay just like everyone else," Simone Mauro told The Local.

Several polls show that the 77-year-old Berlusconi's popularity is undimmed among his core supporters and that a centre-right coalition led by him as figurehead could win a future election.

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