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Italy president outraged by threat of Berlusconi lawmakers to quit if he's ousted from Senate

Italy's president has issued a scathing rebuke to lawmakers of Silvio Berlusconi's party for purportedly threatening to resign en masse if the former premier is ousted from Parliament.

The Senate is due to vote next week on whether to strip Berlusconi of his seat following his conviction for tax fraud and four-year prison sentence. A 2012 law bans anyone sentenced to more than two years in prison from holding or running for public office for six years.

President Giorgio Napolitano on Thursday accused members Berlusconi's People of Freedom party of undermining Italy's parliamentary system and putting undue pressure on him to dissolve parliament and call new elections.

He said it was "absurd" of them to claim that Berlusconi was being overthrown by magistrates. He said court rulings must be respected.