ROME - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is expected to resign on Saturday, making way for an emergency government and ending one of the most scandal-plagued eras in Italy's post-war history.
The Chamber of Deputies was due to start a debate at 11:30 a.m. GMT on a package of economic reforms intended to reverse a collapse of market confidence.
The definitive approval of the package by the lower house will mark the final act of the Berlusconi government. He is expected to hold a last cabinet meeting and then go to the Quirinale Palace and hand his resignation to President Giorgio Napolitano.
His resignation will trigger a series of events over the weekend and most likely conclude on Sunday night or Monday morning with the formation of new government headed by former European Commissioner Mario Monti.
Monti, currently head of the prestigious Bocconi University in Milan, is expected to head a largely technocratic government to push through reforms in an effort to head off a perilous crisis.