Berlusconi allies says he'll remain political force in Italy

Aug. 17, 2013 at 11:06 AM

ROME, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, banned from holding office as a convicted criminal, will still wield political power, a leader of his party said.

Francesco Nitto Palma of Berlusconi's People of Freedom party said in an Internet video this week Berlusconi will be more than a "spiritual guide" in the party even if the Italian Senate votes next month to uphold his six-year ban from political office.

"He will remain a political leader in every sense of the word," Nitto Palma said.

Nitto Palma credited the 76-year-old Berlusconi's public image for the party's strong showing in the February elections, even though Berlusconi wasn't running. He dismissed the idea Berlusconi's influence would diminish due to his pending one-year sentence to house arrest or community service for corporate fraud, which could cost him his Senate seat.

Lawyers for Berlusconi are considering seeking a presidential pardon, but party officials told Italy's ANSA news agency they were still undecided about whether to push to keep Berlusconi in the Senate.

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