Berlusconi faces expulsion from parliament for tax fraud

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By James Mackenzie ROME (Reuters) - The Italian Senate opened its debate on expelling Silvio Berlusconi on Wednesday, ahead of an evening vote that is expected to see the veteran center-right leader stripped of his seat in parliament over a tax fraud conviction. The vote, after months of political wrangling, will open an uncertain new phase in Italian politics, with the 77-year-old media billionaire preparing to use all his extensive resources to attack Prime Minister Enrico Letta's coalition government. A protest by supporters planned for Wednesday afternoon will be "only the beginning", Berlusconi warned this week, saying it would be followed by a series of actions to "defend democracy", though he no longer commands enough support in parliament to bring down the government. Berlusconi, who has dominated politics in Italy for two decades, has already pulled his party out of Letta's coalition after seven months in government, accusing leftwing opponents of mounting a "coup d'etat" to eliminate him.