Saturday, 12 November 2011

Berlusconi resigns

Silvio Berlusconi has tendered his resignation as Italian prime minister. President Giorgio Napolitano accepted his offer and is likely to appoint technocrat Mario Monti his successor. Berlusconi lost his majority amid an acute debt crisis that threatens the eurozone. He promised to go once MPs had approved new austerity measures. He is Italy's longest-serving post-World War II prime minister - having dominated political life for 17 years. His premiership has recently been marred by many scandals.

Berlusconi's journey to the presidential palace was an undignified one. He was booed along the way, with demonstrators calling him a "buffoon". The outgoing prime minister said he felt "embittered" after hearing the insults.

After losing his parliamentary majority on Tuesday, Berlusconi promised to resign after austerity measures, demanded by the EU and designed to restore markets' confidence in the country's economy, were passed by both houses of parliament. Members of the lower house voted 380-26 with two abstentions on Saturday, a day after the Senate approved the measures that have now been signed into law.

Berlusconi has been prime minister three times since he first took office in 1994. He has described himself as Italy's best head of government since the country was created nearly 150 years ago. However, he is currently involved in several trials for fraud, corruption and having sex with an under-age girl, and has attracted media attention for so-called "bunga-bunga" parties which young women were allegedly paid to attend.

After accepting Mr Berlusconi's resignation, Mr Napolitano is expected to formally ask Mr Monti or another candidate to form a government of technocrats.