Italy crisis: Silvio Berlusconi resigns as PM

 

Silvio Berlusconi has been a major player in Italian politics for 17 years

Silvio Berlusconi has resigned as prime minister of Italy, after dominating the country's politics for 17 years.

President Giorgio Napolitano is likely to appoint technocrat Mario Monti as 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.

Crowds celebrated outside the presidential palace, shouting "buffoon" as he entered.

The BBC's Alan Johnston in Rome says Mr Berlusconi's last journey as prime minister was an undignified one.

Police struggled to control a large, hostile crowd which booed and jeered as his convoy swept by, and after his resignation he left by a side exit to avoid the protesters.

Protesters outside Palazzo Grazzioli in Rome, 12 November 2011

He said he felt "embittered" after hearing the insults.

Mr Berlusconi is Italy's longest-serving post-war prime minister. His premiership has recently been marred by many scandals.

He is a consummate survivor, our correspondent says, but he was overwhelmed by the scale of the financial crisis which has engulfed Italy.

After losing his parliamentary majority on Tuesday, Mr Berlusconi promised to resign when 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.

Sluggish growth

Mr Napolitano's spokesman Donato Marra said the president had invited the outgoing government to "remain in power in order to finish current business".

Consultations on forming a new government would begin on Sunday, he said.

Mr Napolitano is expected to formally ask Mr Monti or another candidate to form a government of technocrats.

Berlusconi in numbers

  • At least 51 votes of confidence in his government since it took power in 2008
  • Three election victories - 1994, 2001 and 2008
  • Two election defeats - 1996 and 2006
  • Four ongoing trials
  • 75 years old
  • $9bn - net worth of Berlusconi and his family (Forbes, 2010)

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, and he has support in many quarters.

But there is significant opposition to him within the country, and a feeling that Italy's troubles are just too deep for a mere change of government to make any rapid, significant difference.

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.

 

More on This Story

Berlusconi's era

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 255.

    Berlusconi's resignation will make little difference to the plight of Italy. The state of the Italian economy is dire. The black economy is extensive, in fact most of the economy is completely corrupt. To keep Italy in the Eurozone the new Prime Minister will have to cut all wages and pensions by the equivalent of 25%. They will riot in the streets.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 231.

    #203 Sabrina70
    I have lived in Italy for a number of years and closely followed the acute complications of Italian politics . Had I been Italian , I would have voted for Berlusconi , simply because he was the best and strongest leader Italy had . The left of centre have no leaders and have policies which have been instrumental in creating the low growth and bankruptcy of today . Leave the Euro !!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 204.

    It was time Berlusconi went but I am not so certain that his replacement will do anything else apart from tighten the thumbscrew more for the public. He is a technocrat installed by the establishment to try and maintain the status quo at the expense of the man on the street.
    Sheer coincidence that Greece did the same, Im sure.

  • rate this
    -10

    Comment number 59.

    Like Silvio Berlusconi or not, he has provided Italy with stable governance for the past decade or so. Let's hope Italy doesn't get bogged down with weak coalition governments and elections every year as in the past.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 35.

    And now the next generation of Italians get to spend their working lifes paying off all the silly money he borrowed on the Euro credit card recklessly used to pay for all the non-jobs and short-term short-sighted spending that kept the current generation of Italians voting for him for so long. Good riddance to him, but like other "leaders", his damage will be his generations legacy for the next.

 

Comments 5 of 7

 

More Europe stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.