Nov 27 - Love him or hate him, Silvio Berlusconi is a divisive but still dominant figure on the Italian political stage. But now he faces a vote to expel him from parliament - potentially putting the brakes on a twenty-year political career and threatening to trigger fresh political tensions. David Pollard reports.
He's been a giant of the political stage for twenty years. Here you can meet the man in miniature. This Naples shop is churning out tiny Berlusconis to put under your Christmas tree. Alongside his girlfriend, Francesca - and those megastars of the Italian cast list, the Pope and the premier league football player. The vote he himself faces is of a different magnitude. It's seen as a done deal that the Italian Senate will decide to strip him of his seat. His dominance, if not ended, seriously undermined. A move Berlusconi denounces as a plot by his enemies. SOUNDBITE (Italian) FORMER ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER SILVIO BERLUSCONI SAYING: "What is this called? It is called a coup d'etat." Italian law says Berlusconi's conviction for tax fraud bars him from parliament. Prime minister Enrico Letta's centre-left Democratic Party and the Five-Star Movement of former comedian Beppe Grillo say they'll vote against him. Exit Berlusconi - enter a new element of political tension that could drag down reform of a struggling economy. Even if political commentators like Elisabetta Fiorito of Radio 24 say he may fight another day. SOUNDBITE (English) POLITICAL JOURNALIST ELISABETTA FIORITO OF RADIO 24 SAYING: "I've been hearing the end of Berlusconi for 20 years so I don't know because the man has seven lives like the cats. I think he wants to go to elections again and if he is in the opposition and he can fight against Europe, against the German authority on Europe and Italy, he will have a chance." Much though depends on what the law does if the vote is carried. Berlusconi's lawyers say it's 'unrealistic' the 77-year-old will face arrest over other charges, including paying for sex with a minor. For tax fraud, he's likely to spend a year doing community service. Due to his age, prison is unlikely - if technically still possible.