Silvio Berlusconi has made another exit from the stage but most politicians are betting, or worrying, that he will soon return.
He has certainly promised that he will be back, even as he was being stripped of his rank of senator by Italy’s upper house of parliament on 27 November.
But will he return in a major or just a walk-on part? Berlusconi is certainly not accustomed to minor roles, and as he swept off the rather pathetic platform in front of a dwindling audience outside his Rome home in Via del Plebiscito he had certainly convinced himself and others that this was not his final appearance.
What will happen next, other than a series of court appearances, is still vague. His punishment for being found guilty in the Mediaset case for tax fraud and evasion is either house arrest or community service. House arrest (would that be in Rome or Milan?) would not give him much opportunity for public posing. Community service would certainly offer him a better chance for photo opportunities. Rumour had it that this was his favoured option although now there is some doubt.
There has been much speculation that he might be cleaning public lavatories, but as any tourist knows there are not many of those in Italy. Berlusconi in the uniform of a street cleaner seems improbable. Helping the old, the homeless and the displaced would certainly give him a stage, but these skills have not figured prominently in his CV up to now.
Maybe a year in the office of the tax collectors would be the most fitting part. But it is unlikely that tax collecting counts as community service, although perhaps it should.
So in the interval between acts (will the next one be the final one or just another scene?) there will be much chatter and suspense before the curtain goes up again.