Silvio Berlusconi
Controversial prime minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy has agreed to resign. Photo Credit: European People's Party/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY

Silvio Berlusconi, the controversial Prime Minister of Italy, will not serve out the end of his third term. Berlusconi has been consistently losing support in Italy’s parliament, and he has offered to resign as soon as key economic reforms are passed.

Debt crisis strangling third largest economy in Europe

Italy is currently one of the harder hit nations by the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, according to CNN. The national debt of Italy is currently more than its annual gross domestic product. The interest rate on 10-year government bonds is inching closer to 7 percent. A higher bond rate, which is determined by the market, indicates a government has a poor credit rating.

According to the Guardian, 14 percent of Italians currently live below the poverty and line and unemployment is catastrophically high. Italy, according to CBS, is the third largest economy in Europe and a key part of global financial markets with its 2 trillion euro (about $2.8 billion dollars) bond market.

Voting revolt forces resignation

The Italian government is currently voting on approving the 2010 budget, or rather Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s official accounting of the 2010 budget. In order to capture a clear majority of votes, the measure required 316 votes of approval in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower chamber in the Italian legislature, according to CBS.

However, it only received 308 votes for and none against as 321 members of the Chamber of Deputies abstained. The intent was to show that the controversial prime minister no longer had the support of the legislature.

After a conference with Italy’s president, Grigorio Napolitano, he announced he was resigning immediately after pending economic austerity measures were passed.

Legacy of controversy

Berlusconi has been one of the most controversial figures in world politics for some time. He has faced accusations of corruption, narrowly survived votes of no confidence and earlier this year, according to the Guardian, was put on trial for criminal charges. He was alleged to have had sexual encounters with an underage prostitute named “Ruby the Heart Stealer,” among many other allegations concerning his personal life.

Austerity measures were passed earlier this year including reducing public benefits, raising the retirement age from 65 to 67 and tax hikes, but the European Central Bank, among other creditors, feels they weren’t effective enough. According to the Los Angeles Times, it isn’t known what the further austerity measures will entail or when they will be presented.

Sources

CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/08/world/europe/italy-economy/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/08/silvio-berlusconi-to-resign-italy

CBS: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57320713/berlusconi-gives-conditional-promise-to-resign/?tag=stack

The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/08/italy-crisis-patriotism-amid-gloom

Los Angeles Times: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2011/11/italy-silvio-berlusconi-to-resign.html

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