Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Berlusconi announces resignation

Source: Press TV

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said that he intends to resign after key economic reforms have been approved.

Berlusconi made the announcement on Tuesday, following a key parliamentary vote on public finance that he won without gaining the absolute majority of 316 seats, which is a precondition for the approval of future budgets, the state-run BBC reported.

In the budget vote, 308 MPs supported Berlusconi and one abstained, but 320 others - the entire opposition - did not vote.

The European Union has been putting pressure on Italy to carry out long-promised major economic reforms in order to improve its financial situation.

There is growing fear among EU leaders that Italy might be drawn into the crisis that has already claimed Greece, Ireland, and Portugal.

Italy faces a nearly two-trillion-euro debt that is 120 percent of its Gross Domestic Product. A 60-billion-euro austerity package to balance the budget by 2013 was passed in August.

“Once this engagement is fulfilled, the prime minister will hand in his mandate to the head of state, who will proceed with appropriate consultations, paying close attention to the positions and proposals of all political forces,” President Giorgio Napolitano said in a statement.

Berlusconi had shown “his awareness of the implications of the results of today's vote” as well as “concern for the urgent need to give prompt answers to the expectations of European partners,” Napolitano added.

The 75-year-old prime minister's popularity rating recently slipped to a record low of 22 percent as his team was unable to address the fiscal crisis and he faced legal battles over bribery, tax fraud, abuse of power, and sexual relations with a 17-year-old prostitute.

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