Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi Resigns

Party Rooster

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12 November 2011 Last updated at 15:53 ET

Italy crisis: Silvio Berlusconi resigns as PM

Mr Berlusconi said he felt bitter about the hostile reception he received en route to resign

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.

Mr 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-WWII PM - having dominated political life for 17 years. His premiership has recently been marred by many scandals.

The BBC's Alan Johnston in Rome says Mr 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.

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

Sluggish growth

Italy's leaders are desperate to signal that they can bring the country's finances under control, says the BBC's Alan Johnston in Rome, and they are moving fast.

Mr Monti, a well respected economist, is exactly the sort of man that the money markets would like to see take charge at this time of crisis, our correspondent says, but there is significant opposition to him within the country.

The austerity package foresees 59.8bn euros in savings from a mixture of spending cuts and tax rises, with the aim of balancing the budget by 2014. Measures include:

An increase in VAT, from 20% to 21%
A freeze on public-sector salaries until 2014
The retirement age for women in the private sector will gradually rise, from 60 in 2014 until it reaches 65 in 2026, the same age as for men
Measures to fight tax evasion will be strengthened, including a limit of 2,500 euros on cash transactions
There will be a special tax on the energy sector
On Wednesday, the interest rate on 10-year Italian government bonds touched 7%, the rate at which Greece, Ireland and Portugal were forced to seek bailouts from the EU.

An EU team has begun work in Rome, monitoring how Italy plans to cut its crushing debt burden, 120% of annual economic output (GDP).

The Italian economy has grown at an average of 0.75% a year over the past 15 years.

Mr 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.

But 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.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-15708729
 

Ballbuster1

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Aug 26, 2002
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But 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.
Sounds like an upstanding man to me. What's the problem?