Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi has said that pensioners will get free trips to the cinema if his party is returned to power.
Silvio Berlusconi, 78, who is in hospital for an eye operation, has written a letter in which he sets out a host of promises to the elderly, as long as they vote for his Forza Italia party at the next election, Il Messaggero newspaper reports.
As well as pledging to cut taxes and increase pensions, Silvio Berlusconi says pensioners would get free cataract operations and dental implants, as well as “free cinema in the afternoons and train journeys during the week”.
Silvio Berlusconi is currently banned from holding public office after being convicted of tax fraud, and has been doing community service at a care home as part of his sentence.
“We say to our friends in retirement: Do not make the mistake that you made at the last European elections,” he says in the letter.
“You must go and vote. It’s someone of your own age and who loves you who’s telling you himself: Silvio Berlusconi.”
Forza Italia took a drubbing in the European Parliament elections in May, coming third behind PM Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement.
Silvio Berlusconi, who famously owns two fluffy white poodles called Dudu and Dudina, has one final sweetener to persuade those older people who share his love of pets: “A free vet’s appointment once a month for your four-legged friends.”
Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi faces expulsion from parliament over his conviction for tax fraud.
The Senate will vote later on whether to expel the former prime minister.
Analysts say a large majority of senators is expected to back his expulsion.
The former PM has called for supporters to protest in Rome against what he says is a political vendetta.
The vote comes a day after Silvio Berlusconi withdrew his Forza Italia party from the coalition government.
Silvio Berlusconi, who has dominated politics for nearly two decades in Italy, had asked senators to delay the vote on his expulsion because he claims to have new evidence proving he did not commit tax fraud.
However, the vote is expected to go ahead on Wednesday evening.
Silvio Berlusconi faces expulsion from parliament over his conviction for tax fraud
Silvio Berlusconi, 77, threatened to topple the coalition government over the issue earlier this year but backed down during a confidence vote.
He old has dismissed the Senate, which is dominated by his political opponents, as biased against him.
Silvio Berlusconi was convicted of tax fraud in October 2012 over deals his firm Mediaset made to purchase TV rights to US films. The verdict was upheld in August.
Expulsion from parliament may lead to Silvio Berlusconi’s arrest over other criminal cases, as he would lose his immunity from prosecution.
He will have to serve a one-year sentence for his tax conviction, probably under house arrest or by doing community service because of his age.
Silvio Berlusconi has also been convicted of paying for s** with an underage prostitute and of a breach of confidentiality over a police wiretap. He is appealing against both convictions.
Both PM Enrico Letta’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and former comedian Beppe Grillo’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement have said they will vote against Silvio Berlusconi.
Enrico Letta’s government survived a confidence vote on the 2014 budget on Tuesday with the help of a group of dissidents who broke away from Berlusconi’s party earlier this month.
Silvio Berlusconi had said earlier that his party would vote against the budget, and the Forza Italia leader in the lower house soon declared that the party was moving into opposition.
Former PM Silvio Berlusconi has relaunched Forza Italia (Go Italy) party as his People of Freedom (PDL) party split between his supporters.
“I am happy that we have returned to this name, the one we all still have in our hearts: Forza Italia,” Silvio Berlusconi said at a party conference in Rome before hundreds of delegates, who voted unanimously to the name change of the party with the 77-year-old leader again at its helm.
Silvio Berlusconi supporter, Senator Vincenzo Gibiino, said: “Forza Italia is reborn thanks to Berlusconi who has decided to throw himself into the fray for all our sakes.”
At least 250 delegates, however, were not present. This faction, led by former PDL deputy leader Angelino Alfano, previously said they would not attend the PDL party conference, announcing the formation of breakaway party called Nuovo centrodestra (New Centre Right).
Silvio Berlusconi has relaunched Forza Italia party as his People of Freedom party split between his supporters
Composed of between 56 and 60 parliamentarians, the Alfano group would be large enough to ensure the survival of the prime minister‘s government should Berlusconi supporters drop out of the ruling coalition under the leadership of centre-left PM Enrico Letta.
At the centre of PDL split is how the party would react to the possible expulsion of Berlusconi from parliament over a tax fraud conviction.
The possibility of parliamentary expulsion, the decision for which is to take place on November 27, is seen as likely because the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), the PDL‘s main coalition partner, is unwilling to let the scandal-prone politician keep his seat.
On Saturday, Silvio Berlusconi repeated his allegation that it was impossible for his party to remain in parliament with people who wanted the death of the one of the party‘s leaders.
The Alfano group, however, has argued the good of the country necessitated the continuance of the Letta government.
Negotiations within the PDL to prevent a party split continued until the last minute, with Alfano demanding in addition to remaining in the governing coalition an increase of democracy within the party and other issues.
In a 30-minute-long speech, Silvio Berlusconi appeared to signal his readiness to enter the opposition, criticizing the Letta government, accusing it of failed economic policies and lacking political will within Europe.
Silvio Berlusconi thundered against taxes and maintained that when he was head of government, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French former president Nicolas Sarkozy never liked him because he had “the experience and the will to say no to many of their suggestions.”