ROME (Reuters) - Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Thursday said if center-right lawmakers resigned to protest against Silvio Berlusconi being stripped of his Senate seat after a tax-fraud conviction, they would undermine the workings of parliament.
A mass resignation of the People of Freedom (PDL) party members "would be a blow to the roots of parliament's ability to function," Napolitano said in an unusually strong statement.
"There is still time, which I hope is used well, to find a way to express - if this is what the PDL parliamentarians want to do - their political and human empathy for the PDL president without putting at risk the functioning of the two houses of parliament," he said.
Napolitano also called the use of expressions like "coup d'etat" and "subversion" when referring to Berlusconi's conviction was "absurd", and he repeated that neither he nor Prime Minister Enrico Letta could do anything to change the outcome of the trial.
(Reporting by Steve Scherer)