Italy: Berlusconi resigns amid jeering, celebrations

President Napolitano accepts Italian PM's formal resignation after 17 years in role; protesters gather in Rome to celebrate.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini)
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini)
ROME - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi formally resigned on Saturday, ending one of the most scandal-plagued eras in recent Italian history amid the jeers of hundreds of protestors gathered in central Rome to celebrate his departure.
President Giorgio Napolitano accepted Berlusconi's resignation after a meeting in the presidential palace, his office said.
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Berlusconi, who failed to secure a majority in a crucial vote on Tuesday, handed in his resignation after parliament passed a package of measures demanded by European partners to restore market confidence in Italy's strained public finances.
Former European Commissioner Mario Monti is expected to be given the task of trying to form a new administration to face a widening financial crisis which has sent Italy's borrowing costs to unmanageable levels.
Berlusconi said on Tuesday he would resign after suffering a humiliating setback in parliament that showed a party revolt had stripped him of a majority.
His failure to implement reforms fueled a party revolt and Berlusconi told his own Canale 5 television station that the only option was an early election. However, this could prolong the uncertainty that has sapped market confidence.
Napolitano said he would now hold consultations on the formation of a new government. Markets and Napolitano himself are thought to favor a technocrat or national unity government.