Italy's Berlusconi Agrees to Resign. Here's Why

By Momigliano, Anna | The Christian Science Monitor, November 9, 2011 | Go to article overview

Italy's Berlusconi Agrees to Resign. Here's Why


Momigliano, Anna, The Christian Science Monitor


Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi survived scandals from corruption to underage prostitution. But the economy pushed Italy's flamboyant leader to resign.

An era appears to be coming to a close for Italy, as Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi officially announced his intention to resign. His move comes on the heels of the exit of Greece's prime minister, George Papandreou.

"He cannot take his word back," says David Bidussa, a historian at the progressive Istituto Feltrinelli. "It's over."

Mr. Berlusconi is infamous for having survived countless crises over the course of his political career. But in the end, it wasn't his constant legal troubles - the prime minister is battling charges ranging from corruption to underage prostitution - nor was it the international gaffes he is famous for that brought the flamboyant prime minister to announce his willingness to resign. Rather, it was the economy.

Italy is facing one of the most severe economic crises to hit Europe, as rating agencies and European authorities worry that its huge public debt may force the nation to declare bankruptcy, dragging the whole eurozone down. Mr. Berlusconi, who has ruled Italy on and off since 1994, is widely blamed for the country's poor finances.

Italy is Europe's third-largest economy. Its current $2.6 trillion debt surpasses that of Greece, Spain, Ireland, and Portugal combined.

For months the political opposition and high-ranking government officers - including some in Berlusconi's own Freedom Party - have called for the prime minister to resign.  He refused to quit until Tuesday evening, when he suffered a major defeat in  Parliament over a series of economic reforms aimed to comply to requests from the European Central Bank.

Berlusconi sent a letter to President Giorgio Napolitano stating his intent to leave his post, but only after the Parliament approves the economic reform, which could happen later this week or the next.

Following the Berlusconi announcement, the stock exchange in Milan reacted negatively, losing four points on Wednesday morning.

Possible successors to Berlusconi

After Parliament approves the economic reform, President Napolitano can either call early elections or ask the Parliament to form a new cabinet. …

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