Italy stocks tumble amid political uncertainty

ROME (AP) — Milan’s stock exchange has closed sharply lower amid heightened concerns about a government crisis following Silvio Berlusconi’s definitive conviction for tax fraud.

The benchmark FTSE MIB closed down 2.1 percent Monday, dragged in particular by a 6.25 percent fall in Berlusconi’s Mediaset empire.

Italy has been gripped by weeks of political uncertainty and suggestions that early elections are near after the high court on Aug. 1 upheld Berlusconi’s tax fraud conviction, four-year prison term and ban from public office.

Italy’s Senate will soon decide whether not to confirm Berlusconi’s ban from public office — he’s currently a senator — a decision that could spark a government crisis.

Premier Enrico Letta said Sunday it would be “crazy” to make his government fall now, with major economic reforms on the horizon.

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