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Ciao, Silvio! Berlusconi resigns as Italian PM

Published time: November 12, 2011 20:52
Edited time: November 14, 2011 14:15

Italian Prime Minister Silvio berlusconi reacts during a session at the parliament to adopt measures he promised to the European Union on November 12, 2011 in Rome (AFP Photo / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE)

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Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi has resigned on Saturday bringing an end to a 17-year political era, after parliament's lower chamber passed European-demanded reforms.

­Mario Monti, a former European commissioner, has been appointed the head of a new 'caretaker' government in Italy to pull the country back from the financial abyss. 

President Giorgio Napolitano has asked Monti to try to form an interim government now that Berlusconi has  resigned, but it will likely make Monti's job more difficult.

This resignation, almost certainly ends a political career in which Berlusconi achieved the feat of becoming his nation's longest-serving premier. The media tycoon dominated Italian politics for nearly two decades.

He has balanced between relentless investor attacks on Italy's government bonds, crumbling support in parliament and sex scandals and corruption trials that threatened to engulf him.

Explicit accounts of sexy "bunga bunga" parties turned him into an international laughing stock. Prosecutors pursued him over a mind-boggling array of suspected improprieties. But in the end he has lost his fight to the markets.

Berlusconi inspired equally fierce loyalty and fierce opposition. His admirers called him a capable statesman who sought to make Italy rich and powerful. His critics – a populist whose immense media and political power made him a threat to democracy.

­Political journalist Farbizio Maronta told RT that if Mario Monti takes the post, he will have to implement extremely tough measures, but he will get the political support he needs to push them through.

“The Democratic Party favors Monti. And even those who do not favor him, don’t have a political choice. We had more or less the same situation 15 years ago and we had three non-elected governments in a row in order to bring the country into the eurozone,” he said.