The Italian Senate has voted to expel ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi from parliament with immediate effect over his conviction for tax fraud.
Berlusconi, who has dominated politics for 20 years, could now face arrest over other criminal cases as he has lost his immunity from prosecution.
He told supporters in Rome it was a “day of mourning” for democracy.
Ahead of the vote, he vowed to remain in politics to lead his Forza Italia in a “fight for the good of Italy”.
A defiant Berlusconi told supporters gathered outside his Rome residence that “no political leader has suffered a persecution such as I have lived through”.
He said: “It is a bitter day, a day of mourning.”
Berlusconi, 77, said his struggle would continue outside parliament.
He said: “We must stay on the field, we must not despair if the leader of the centre-right is not a senator any more. There are leaders of other parties who are not parliamentarians.”
The vote marks the end of a process which determines that Berlusconi cannot take part in any general election for six years.
Though a major blow to the former PM’s political ambitions, the Berlusconi show is far from over – he will continue to lead Forza Italia outside parliament, a party that has considerable electoral support.