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Italy: Ciao, Silvio! Berlusconi Resigns As PM

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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, remains the top choice as the new Premier. The one who will have to steer the country out of its debt as the head of a transitional government.

President Giorgio Napolitano plans to ask 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.

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