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Crowds Cheer As Berlusconi Exits


Silvio Berlusconi

Crowds celebrated in Rome following the resignation of scandal-hit prime minister Silvio Berlusconi amid Italy's economic crisis.

Throngs gathered in the streets to jeer and heckle the veteran leader, calling him a "buffoon," after Berlusconi formally stepped down late on November 12.

Berlusconi, as promised, resigned after lawmakers approved a new set of austerity measures aimed at restoring market confidence in Italy's ability to avert a financial disaster like those suffered by Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

Berlusconi, 75, has dominated Italian politics for the past 17 years, holding the prime minister's post for 10 of those years and making him Italy's longest-serving post-World War II prime minister.

Berlusconi has faced years of investigations over allegations of corruption and sexual misconduct, but his downfall occurred after Italy came under massive international and market pressure to take action to finance its debt and avoid having to receive a bailout.

Reports say former European commissioner Mario Monti is expected be nominated to lead a new transition government.

President Giorgio Napolitano was due to hold consultations November 13 with all of Italy's main political forces, ahead of nominating a candidate to head the new cabinet.

compiled from agency reports