- (Photo: Reuters/Tony Gentile)
Silvio Berlusconi has resigned as prime minister of Italy Saturday, as President Giorgio Napolitano looks set to appoint Mario Monti as his successor in the coming days.
Berlusconi has been a controversial figure in Italian politics over recent years, and the more recent debt crisis overwhelming the eurozone seems to have been the final straw. Earlier in the week he had promised to resign as soon as Italian MPs approved fresh austerity measures.
Saturday saw huge crowds gather to jeer Berlusconi as a convey he was traveling in passed by on his way to announcing his resignation. The boos and name-calling seemed to affect the former Italian leader, as he avoided the crowds following his announcement; leaving by a side door.
The Italian austerity package will save 59.8 billion euros from spending cuts and tax rises. The goal of the measures is to balance the Italian budget books by 2014.
Included in the austerity measures was an increase in VAT, from 20 percent to 21 percent, as well as a gradual rise in the retirement age for women in the private sector from 60 in 2014 until it reaches 65 in 2026, the same age as for men.
Berlusconi was Italy's longest-serving post-war prime minister, but has been the most scandal-hit as well.
He has been involved in several trials for fraud and corruption. Recently he was also engulfed in a scandal for allegations of having sex with an under-age girl.