Italy crisis: As it happened

Key points

  • Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has confirmed he intends to resign after austerity measures are passed to bolster Italy's economy
  • Earlier, Mr Berlusconi lost his majority in parliament, with 308 voting for him on a budget vote seen as a test of his support. One abstained, and 320 others - the entire opposition - did not vote
  • The 2010 budget report was approved as the opposition did not vote in order to allow it to pass
  • Mr Berlusconi's main coalition partner Umberto Bossi of the Northern League had called on him to step aside
  • EU finance ministers are meeting in Brussels for talks on the crisis
  • Meanwhile, in Greece, talks continue to try to agree a unity government amid international pressure to ratify the latest bail-out deal

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    Welcome to our live coverage of a turbulent day in Italian politics, as pressure mounts on Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi amid a swirling crisis over whether his country can manage its debts. A short time before a normally mundane but now crucial budget vote in parliament, his main coalition partner is now urging him to go. Follow developments minute by minute here - and don't forget to send us your views.


    "We have asked Berlusconi to step aside," Northern League leader Umberto Bossi said as he arrived in parliament.


    The yield, or interest rate, on Italy's 10-year bonds peaked in recent hours at 6.74%, though it has since fallen back to 6.6%, AP says.


    Russia is willing to increase its financial backing for the International Monetary Fund as part of international efforts to help Europe cope with its sovereign debt crisis, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said on Tuesday, following two days of talks in Moscow, according to Reuters news agency.


    Asked by journalists if he wanted Angelino Alfano, secretary general of Mr Berlusconi's Party of Freedom, Mr Bossi retorted: "If not him, who should we appoint?"


    In case you are unfamiliar with Umberto Bossi here's a few facts:

    \u2022Leader of the federalist Northern League Party which provides Silvio Berlusconi with a parliamentary majority

    \u2022A former singer, aged 70, married (twice) with four sons

    \u2022Minister for Institutional Reforms in the Berlusconi cabinet

    \u2022Had a break from frontline politics after suffering a stroke in March 2004

    1209: Alan Johnston BBC News, Rome

    explains that Italy's gathering crisis is rooted in its 1.9-trillion-euro debt - 120% of its GDP. Borrowing costs have risen against to a euro-era high, he says

    1210: Alan Johnston BBC News, Rome

    If this afternoon's normally routine budget vote goes badly for Mr Berlusconi, it will almost certainly be followed by a confidence motion - then the end might be near

    Giuseppina Porcu from Sassari in Italy

    writes: I'm very worried about the situation in my country. I hope Berlusconi will resign soon because his government has completely destroyed Italy. Every day you can see the crisis played out on our streets. Many shops and small business fail everyday and the number of people asking for state assistance has increased. Sadly members of our parliament seem overly preoccupied with safeguarding their positions.


    While Italy buckles under the weight of its debt, Europe's leading economy is doing very well for itself. German exports hit a new record in September, Reuters reports, helping the trade surplus rise to its highest level since June 2008.


    If you need some help deciphering the jargon surrounding the eurozone crisis, turn to our glossary of key financial terms.

    Edward Lucas, International editor, The Economist

    tweets: Italy is like rich man who works part-time, has credit-card debts and has lost his wallet. Illiquid not insolvent.


    Meanwhile in Greece - at the eye of the eurozone storm last week - high-pressure talks have been under way to try to form a unity government after PM George Papandreou agreed to stand down. Now Mr Papandreou "has asked the members of the cabinet to have their resignations ready", the Athens state news agency says, according to Reuters.


    Who might succeed Mr Berlusconi if he is forced to resign? We've put together thumbnail sketches of possible successors.

    Alberto Nardelli, Entrepreneur, co-founder of @tweetminster

    tweets: #Italy's biggest challenge is every party wants a different solution/leader post-Berlusconi. This is also why B. kept winning elections.


    A deal in Greece is very close, a government source has told the BBC. Mr Papandreou is said to have told cabinet that he hopes and believes that "we will have a positive outcome by the end of the day". Lucas Papademos appears to frontrunner for the leadership, the source said.

    Emily Buchanan BBC world affairs correspondent

    says Umberto Bossi's call for the prime minister to resign intensifies the pressure ahead of the crucial vote in parliament. Mr Bossi, leader of the Northern League, has long been a key ally of Mr Berlusconi.

    Nick Robinson Political editor

    "Last night I saw Senor Tremonti, Italy's finance minister, drinking at the bar at one of the top hotels in [Brussels] well before 10 o'clock. The name of the hotel was 'Amigo'. Perhaps it was meant as a comfort to a man who found few friends here." Read more from Nick in his latest blog post.


    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou reportedly said his farewells as he brought to an end an emergency cabinet session that was discussing his successor.

    Antonio Mastrolia from Lecce in Italy

    writes: I don't think Silvio Berlusconi has more than the 15% of support of the Italian people. If Berlusconi fails this afternoon, I think his time is over. The problem facing us is after Mr Berlusconi, who's next in line? I don't think we have lots of capable politicians.

    1311: Mark Lowen BBC News, Athens

    says one reason Greek talks to find a unity government have been held up is that the frontrunner to be the new leader, Lucas Papademos - a former vice president of the European Central Bank (ECB) - wants to be in office longer than the 100 days the new government is envisaged to last before elections are held.


    The EU has asked Greece to produce a letter promising implementation of a bailout deal and have it signed by the outgoing and new Greek prime minister, the finance minister, the opposition leader and the central bank chief, a minister has told reporters according to Reuters.

    Montecitorio palace in Rome on 8 November 2011

    Rome's Montecitorio palace, where Italy's lower house of parliament will later have that crucial vote.

    Pietro Crescini from Milan in Italy

    writes: International press coverage on Italy has focused more on Mr Berlusconi's personal life, namely his bedtime activities, his hairstyle and his problems with the law, than anything else. Italy needs to forge ahead. Mr Berlusconi has not delivered on his promises. It is time for him to retire.

    Nouriel Roubini, co-author of Crisis Economics

    tweets: Replacing Berlusconi with one of his servile lackeys is unacceptable. Italy needs a credible government run by a respected & competent leader.


    A senior Greek official says a new interim prime minister is expected to be announced some time on Tuesday, the Associated Press reports.


    Sergio Di Gregorio, an MP in Mr Berlusconi's party, says he still supports the PM but accepts they are in the grip of a "true political crisis".

    "The problem is to carry on every day in this situation, our majority is narrow now, and we have to rethink certain aspects of it. I would not want to be in Berlusconi's shoes, having to face all the time this crisis, fighting like a lion," he told the BBC.


    Italian MP Ida D'Ippolito told the BBC her recent defection from Mr Berlusconi's People of Freedom party after 17 years was her message to the party leaders that "they are making a mistake, they did not help our prime minister to take the right path, and they cannot keep on leaving the country with these troubles."

    Christopher Spink, Financial journalist, Thomson Reuters

    tweets: Leaving \u20ac more attractive option for #Italy than Greece to effectively reduce public debt? But only if most bonds issued under domestic law.


    Italian opposition senator, Emma Bonino, is worried that speculation about Mr Berlusconi's possible resignation is taking the focus away from the important issues. "I see many discussions on who is going to take over and so on and so forth, but I don't see any common understanding on the structural reforms we need," she told the BBC.


    Umberto Bossi - Mr Berlusconi's coalition partner and former ally who is now urging him to stand down - is a firebrand with controversial views on immigration and crime. If you want to know more, you can listen again to the Radio 4 programme Profile, which featured him recently.

    Katerina Sokou, Financial journalist, Greek daily newspaper Kathimerini.

    tweets: To become PM, #Papademos has demands. As he puts it "I was the one to sign Greek entry in the EZ, and I won't be the one to sign its exit".

    Greek PM George Papandreou leaves the cabinet meeting in Athens on 8 November 2011

    George Papandreou leaves an emergency cabinet meeting in Athens, probably for the last time as Greece's prime minister.


    Quick update on events in the eurozone today. In a few hours time, Italian MPs will vote on a budget package that could decide whether Silvio Berlusconi remains as PM; Greece is waiting to hear whether it has a new prime minister; and EU finance ministers are meeting in Brussels to discuss the crisis.

    Faisal Islam, C4 News

    tweets: whole weight of world financial diplomacy is bearing down on the cherished independence of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. The EfSF is just a way for the eurozone to get round the ECB's refusals to load up the printing presses...

    Hugo Dixon, Founder and editor of Reuters Breakingviews

    tweets: ECB will need to fire its big bazooka but shouldn't do it until #Berlusconi quits and Italy has credible new government.


    Silvio Berlusconi's coalition partner Umberto Bossi earlier called for the prime minister's resignation, and indicated that former Justice Minister Angelino Alfano could be his successor. Read more on Angelino Alfano and other possible successors.


    Read all about Umberto Bossi, a key coalition ally of Silvio Berlusconi whose call for his resignation could spell the end for the Italian prime minister.

    Panos Haritos, Mid East Correspondent For ERT S.A.

    tweets: Finally the #Greek cabinet resign & probably later on 2day the new unity gov will be announced


    A debate is under way among lawmakers in the Italian parliament ahead of a vote on the budget.

    Lorenzo Rinaldi from Florence in Italy

    writes: Italy is just behind Greece in terms how bad the economic situation is currently, which is very sad because we have a lot of resources but we don't have a political class to lead us. Berlusconi has been able to destroy an entire generation's future and prospects, forcing many students and workers to leave Italy. I moved to Spain to do my Masters. I moved away because there were not enough research positions in my field. I hope there will be a better future for my country but it is very hard to imagine.


    Addressing the gathered MPs in the chamber, Dario Franceschini, of the main centre-left opposition party, the PD, said that Mr Berlusconi has repeatedly ignored requests to stand aside and allow an emergency government to take over. "He thinks he has the numbers to go ahead. Let him prove it today. This is the moment to see."


    In response to Mr Franceschini's comments, Fabrizio Cicchitto, of Berlusconi's People of Freedom party has accused the left of polemisizing the issues the country faces in an irresponsible way. "This is personalising a question that cannot be personalised, it is affecting the whole world," he said.


    Pier Ferdinando Casini, of the centre-left UDC party, said that the opposition, by attending the session but not voting, will allow the 2010 budget report to be approved. "But, afterwards, I hope the insane strong-arm tactics used to control this country will end. Let us try and save Italy all together if we are able to."

    Bija Knowles from Rome in Italy

    tweets: Scary thought that the financial markets have more say in Berlusconi's political future than the voting Italian public #berlusconi #weakdemocracy


    Shares in Berlusconi's Mediaset have lost 1.6% but the overall value of stocks listed on Milan blue-chip FTSE MIB index is up 2.5%.


    Voting - which happens electronically - has opened, and moments later closed.

    1513: Breaking News

    Mr Berlusconi has lost his majority in parliament, with 308 voting for him on a budget vote seen as a test of his support. One abstained, and 320 others - the entire opposition - did not vote


    Pier Luigi Bersani, leader of the Democratic Party, addressed the chamber after the vote and made a personal appeal to Silvio Berlusconi to stand down: "I ask that, now, you finally accept this situation, hand in your resignation and allow the president to find a solution that will allow our great country to go forward. We will do our part."

    Marco Bardazzi, Managing Editor at La Stampa

    tweets: #Berlusconi got 308 votes on key confidence vote in Rome. Basically, his government doesn't have the numbers to run the country. 321 MPs didn't vote in Italian Parliament confidence vote on #Berlusconi. This is a new majority. Berlusconi has to decide what to do

    Alberto Nardelli, Entrepreneur, co-founder of @tweetminster

    tweets: The fact the finance bill has passed is irrelevant. 308 votes means the government no longer has a majority. #Italy

    Ezio Auditore from Florence in Italy

    writes: Since the first time Berlusconi held power in 1994, Italy has become a greater nation. It is essential that he is kept in as PM. He can turn the current downfall around, but must be given the chance to do so. The man is unfairly portrayed in a negative manner and vilified by the world media. He is a genuine man and a great leader. Forza Italia!

    Nick Sutton, Editor of BBC Radio 4's The World at One

    tweets: One observer of Eurozone crisis tells us lenders soon "will not be willing to extend money to Italy at almost any interest rate" #wato

    Alfredo from Dublin

    texts: I would prefer the left to govern Italy. I left the country six years ago and it has become a very difficult place to live, especially for young people. Italian politicians are weak and Mr Berlusconi is at the top of the iceberg of this cancer that is killing my beautiful country.

    Francesco Bortolotti from Padova in Italy

    writes: This is a terrible situation and the only positive side of it would be the end of Berlusconi's political career. Every day it seems to be near but it never happens. I hope today is the right time! Such an ignominious person is unfit and unworthy to lead our country and represent it in the world.


    Italian journalists say they are surprised by the drop in Mr Berlusconi's support. Two major Italian newspapers, La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera, had - before the vote - predicted that he would get either 310 or 311 votes.


    Berlusconi has been described "incredulous" at the result. He is reported to have immediately asked to see the tables to see exactly who had voted against him.

    Marco from Modena, Italy

    texts: Great chance for Italy to cancel out Berlusconi's disastrous leadership. We hope he'll tender his resignation. We want to look forward and deal with this economic crisis.


    US treasury debt prices rose on the news of the vote, Reuters reports.


    Stony-faced but determined: La Repubblica publishes a gallery of images of the final moments of the vote before Berlusconi lost his majority.

    Hugh Pym, BBC Economics Correspondent

    tweets: Italian bond yields (10-year) have crept back to 6.7% after Mr Berlusconi won budget vote but lost parliamentary majority

    Fabio Rigat from Siena in Italy

    writes: The job market shows Italy is experiencing a dramatic employment crisis quite similar to many other European countries. Whether they are willing to admit it or not, Europe and the UK are living the same crisis. Time could be much better spent in finding a solution based on our many economic and cultural strengths instead of speculative finger-pointing.


    "I feel betrayed," Berlusconi said when he saw the list of the 11 MPs who voted against him, Italian TV reports.


    Still smarting from the smirk shared by the German chancellor and the French president when asked if they had faith in Berlusconi's abilities to resolve the country's financial crisis, La Repubblica has put together a gallery of European satire targeting the Italian prime minister.


    Umberto Bossi - the leader of Mr Berlusconi's key coalition party, the Northern League, and the man who turned the tables on him by saying he should stand aside - is holding talks with Mr Berlusconi and his closest allies.


    Former Culture Minister Sandro Bondi, of Mr Berlusconi's PDL party, says that fresh elections would be the best outcome. "Both the opposition and the majority should choose the route of early elections," he says, according to Italian media reports.

    Bill Faber from Perugia in Italy

    writes: Mr Berlusconi's initial and long-standing denial of the crisis has led directly to our problems. He famously said that the crisis would not affect Italy, "a country of savers". No-one, apart from the rich, has anything to save. They've cut local finance to municipalities, thereby increasing the burden on the normal citizen and pensioners, while avoiding any cuts in the expenditure on parliamentarians' salaries and perks.

    Mario Buccelini from Teramo, Italy

    writes: Small businesses in Italy are struggling. This isn't characteristic of Italy. It is characteristic of most of the western world at the moment. Why should Berlusconi be made a scapegoat for the European economic downturn?


    Berlusconi headed into the chamber clutching a note with his various options scribbled down, according to Corriere della Sera. "A confidence vote? I quit? A technical government? Re-election?". Each option was followed by a list of positives and negatives.


    The EU's economic affairs chief says Italy is facing "very significant" market pressure. "The economic and financial situation of Italy is very worrying," Olli Rehn said.


    Mr Rehn's comments confirm the fears of the leader of the opposition Democratic Party, Pier Luigi Bersani, who immediately after the vote, warned: "Italy runs the real risk of not getting access to the financial markets over the next few days, and we all know what this means".

    David Rose, Assistant News Editor, The Times

    tweets: Politics Editor points out that #Berlusconi has survived more than 50 "no-confidence" votes as Italian PM. Don't hold your breath...

    Emilio from Slough, UK

    texts: Silvio Berlusconi was the right person years ago but his personal interests took over and made his position unattainable. I wish the world could realise how weak and inadequate the opposition has become. I left when Romano Prodi was voted in, I have not been tempted to come back under Silvio, will steer well clear now.

    Gino de Blasio from Chester in the UK

    writes: Berlusconi has lost too much ground in recent weeks politically. This is different to two years ago, where he avoided the big bunga bunga scares. Now this is Eurozone survival and my fellow Italians have finally spoken and rallied against him. Biggest problem is who is left after Berlusconi? And how does Italy govern itself in the interim?


    Italian government borrowings costs have jumped again, with the yield on benchmark 10-year Italian bonds soaring to a record level of 6.76%, according to AFP. That's a level not seen since the introduction of the euro and perilously close to the 7% threshold which saw Portugal and Ireland accept bailouts.


    Elisabetta Fiorito, of Radio24, tells BBC World that if Mr Berlusconi doesn't resign, he could request yet another confidence vote. "In the senate he has the numbers, but in the lower chamber, he doesn't," she explains.


    "Time is of the essence," says the EU's economic affairs chief Olli Rehn after the meeting of European finance ministers in Brussels."We want to help Italy through our rigorous surveillance and therefore we are sending our mission to Rome... to start work tomorrow."


    Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble says Italy's problems is not the deficit, though the country's debt levels are high. "The problem is a lack of trust from the financial markets and that, of course, is a realistic situation. And this trust has to be strengthened."


    More from Mr Rehn on the EU's mission to Rome, whose experts are arriving tomorrow. "It's mission is essentially related to preparing of such kind of fiscal measures and structural reforms that are necessary in order to meet the European commitments and in order to ensure fiscal prudence and economic stability."

    Toni DeBella from Orvieto in Italy

    writes: The fact that Mr Berlusconi is "incredulous" and feels betrayed only underscores his complete lack of concern for what is best for Italy and Italians. If he cared about his country, he would see that remaining as prime minister will only bring more uncertainty and lack of confidence in the eurozone as well as in rest of the world. A decent thing to do would be to step down and let the government govern!

    Riccardo, from Sardinia, in Italy

    It looks like Berlusconi's political career has now come to an end. I think he is just a scapegoat: the whole Italian establishment needs to be renewed.

    A note held by Silvio Berlusconi Close-up of a note written by Mr Berlusconi during the vote. 'Eight traitors' it reads

    Umberto Bossi tells reporters that Mr Berlusconi's next steps should become clear after his meeting with the president. "Let's wait for a few minutes, he'll decide what to do at the Quirinale," Mr Bossi, leader of the main Northern League coalition party said, referring to Mr Napolitano's residence in Rome.

    Nico Balestra from London in the UK

    writes: I'm afraid you cannot take it for granted that Berlusconi will resign. He has got too many interests he needs to preserve!

    Leo Nicoletti from Ealing in the UK

    writes: Italy is in an utter mess. The right-minded politicians want to split the country in two and the left-minded have no real solutions to improve job opportunities as well as getting the country out of debt. The only real solution I can see is jumping ship from the doomed SS Eurozone, but unfortunately the only person in the country who can captain the lifeboat at the moment is Silvio Berlusconi.

    John Foy, a Fx Prop trader

    tweets: Berlusconi is a convenient scapegoat for the mess in Italy/Europe. The bounce if he goes will be shallow. The debt won't disappear with him.


    La Repubblica publishes video footage of one of the MPs who turned against Berlusconi and signed a letter calling on him to resign, being hounded by Italian journalists, after a morning meeting with Mr Berlusconi. He takes cover behind a police van, eventually emerging and telling the reporters: "Berlusconi is a statesman, he'll make it."

    Francesco Rizzuto from Ormskirk in the UK

    writes: Berlusconi should resign and a government of national unity should be formed with Mario Monti as prime minister. The humiliation of Italy in the EU and the wider world would come to an end. His supporters do not want elections now, despite their call for them. They would be swept away.

    Stan from Rome in Italy

    texts: I am a non-Italian in Rome. The general mood here in Italy is that people are fed up with Mr Berlusconi and his way of functioning. I dont think he has any solid plans to reform the economy of the country.


    'What happens in Italy if Berlusconi goes?' asks the Guardian's John Hooper, outlining four possible scenarios as Italians and Europeans watch and wait to see what his next move will be.

    Antonia Pagano from Milan in Italy

    writes: He should have resigned at least a year ago. The problem is also the weakness of the the opposition and the division of the left about how to tackle the economic crisis. Berlusconi will leave a country literally devastated by unemployment, corruption and poverty; a country made a mockery by all in Europe and much of the whole world. The sooner he leaves, the better.

    Lisa Jucca, Chief Financial Correspondent, Italy, Reuters

    tweets: #Berlusconi's exit could be new beginning for #italy if whoever follows him as PM learns from his mistake.


    But Gavin Jones of Reuters says in this analysis piece that Mr Berlusconi's exit would not offer a quick fix for Italy's woes: "Even with the exit of a man who came to symbolise scandal and empty promises, it will not be easy for Italy to convince markets it can cut its huge debt, liberalise the labour market, attack tax evasion and boost productivity - just for starters."

    Chris Morris BBC News

    in Brussels reports the events in Rome have overshadowed the meeting of European finance ministers in the Belgian capital to flesh out the details of the latest agreement to combat the debt crisis. UK Chancellor George Osborne has urged countries in the eurozone to speed things up - saying they could not "wait on developments" in Greece and Italy, but had to take the initiative themselves.


    Reuters tweets Italy's president says Berlusconi will resign after approval of new budget law.

    Marco Bardazzi, Managing Editor at La Stampa

    tweets: #Berlusconi is leaving the Quirinale Palace after a chat with Italian President. No word on resignation. Looks like it's not going to happen

    Jessica Bombasaro from London in the UK

    writes: Italy will hopefully be liberated from the terrible shadow of Berlusconi and his policies within the next few days. A purging of the government is needed but is unlikely, and Berlusconi will continue to control the media, so Italians must be vigilant to not elect another Silvio.


    The euro has jumped versus the dollar in afternoon trade on news Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi will resign, Reuters reports in New York.


    The Italian president's office has released a statement on the Berlusconi resignation: "Once this commitment has been carried out, the prime minister will submit his resignation to the head of state," read the statement, which came after consultations between Mr Berlusconi and President Giorgio Napolitano, AFP reports.


    More from the presidential statement: Mr Napolitano will then "proceed with traditional consultations with maximum attention to the positions and proposals of every political force - those of the majority from the 2008 elections as well as the opposition," it added.


    The statement added Mr Berlusconi had shown "his awareness of the implications of the results of today's vote" as well as "concern for the urgent need to give prompt answers to the expectations of European partners".


    As the euro rallied, US stocks have also risen on news of Mr Berlusconi's resignation.

    Italians have been telling us

    what they think of the crisis in their country. Antonio Liuni in Rome said: "In the last few elections I've avoided voting: I'd use any excuse, even going to the beach." Read more views from Italy.


    Annalisa Fiores of L'espresso tells BBC World TV that news of the Berlusconi resignation "is great news for Italy and this is great news for Europe". She believes it is likely to happen next week: "There is a real sense of urgency that the law needs to be passed. The government is being monitored by the IMF. What will happen after he goes is another matter."


    Mr Berlusconi confirms he will resign after the new budget law is approved with amendments demanded by EU partners, Reuters reports.


    Mr Berlusconi adds: The only possibility I see is new elections, Reuters reports.

    Faisal Islam, Economic Editor, C4 News

    tweets: What happens if Silvio wins the election? #justsayin


    Mr Berlusconi says "things like who leads or who doesn't lead the government" is less important than doing "what is right for the country", AP reports.

    Alessio Vinci, Canal Cinque, a Berlusconi-owned channel,

    tells BBC World Have Your Say: "The big question right now is what happens next? We need really tough reforms that no political party, centre left or centre right, has managed to do over the last twenty years. Mr Napolitano knows very well there is no politician in this country that can do that."

    Alan Johnston BBC News, Rome

    says: "Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi has confirmed he intends to resign. Speaking on television, he said he would step down after parliament accepts a raft of economic reforms that he's proposed. These are expected to go before parliament in about two weeks' time. There's been speculation in Rome an interim government of technocrats might be ushered in if Mr Berlusconi's administration were to fall, but he clearly opposes any such step. Mr Berlusconi said in his view, fresh elections were the only way forward."

    Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi leaves the Quirinale Palace after a meeting with President Giorgio Napolitano

    We have a picture of Silvio Berlusconi leaving the Quirinale Palace after his meeting with President Napolitano.

    Emmanuelle Desposti, blogger

    tells BBC World Have Your Say: "To be honest I wouldn't really put any of the Italian politicians in Berlusconi's place. He's not the cause of what's happening in the country, he's the symptom."


    To recap on another turbulent day in Italian politics, Silvio Berlusconi has said he will stand down as Italian prime minister, but only after the Italian parliament has passed key economic reforms demanded by the EU. Earlier, Mr Berlusconi lost his majority in parliament, with 308 MPs voting for him on a budget vote seen as a test of his support. He then met President Giorgio Napolitano to discuss the outcome of the vote before announcing his offer to resign.


    A spokesman for Future and Freedom for Italy, an opposition centre-right party, has told the BBC the opposition might pave the way for a fast approval of the economic reforms as Mr Berlusconi said he would present his resignation only once economic reforms had been approved. The spokesman says that means within 10 or 15 days.


    The leader of the main opposition party, the centre-left PD, has confirmed they are looking into a fast approval. Opposition parties are due to meet tomorrow morning.

    Stefano in Chianti, Italy

    writes: It is definitely time for Berlusconi. I'm an Australian living in Tuscany who originally supported Berlusconi for stability and business experience. I also felt there was no real alternative and that's still true. He had every chance but the performance and reform record of this government is woeful.

    Grace Styles from London in the UK

    writes: Italy can and possibly will pull itself around but I do not feel at all optimistic about Spain. There are deep seated problems in Spain that will probably require a bail out some time soon. I can also see Portugal having to go back to the ECB with a begging bowl as the fundamentals deteriorate there as well.

    Laura Kuenssberg, ITV News Business Editor

    tweets: "See for yourself - Silvio posts his video to Facebook."

    Josh Brown, author of The Reformed Broker blog

    tweets: If Berlusconi would just resign once a week, the entire fiscal crisis could be solved with equity cap gains, put THAT in your textbooks

    Giovanni Russo in Pisa, Italy

    writes: Economic reforms cannot be approved by this government for a simple reason: the reforms it proposed in August were considered unfit by financial markets and the EU. Parliament will discuss the reforms, opponents won't vote in favour. Italy needs a new government.


    We have a transcript of Mr Berlusconi's resignation statement: "I think it is a crucial to give priority to approving these measures. I went to see the president after the vote today and I told him about my plan, which is to ask the opposition to fast-track the approval of these stability measures. Once this finance law is approved, along with the amendments on everything which Europe has asked of us and which the Eurogroup has asked for, I will resign, so that the head of state can open consultations [on the new government]."

    Barbara Gatti from Mantova, Italy

    writes: The problem is - what next? Italians see nothing but a void. Berlusconi was a strong character in a poor play. There is nobody in his wake who inspires one way or the other. Just more confusion to follow.

    Michel Rose, financial reporter with Reuters news agency, based in Milan

    tweets: Berlusconi had a very matter-of-fact and humble tone in that interview, very different from usual defiant, flowery language

    UK Journalist Gaby Hinsliff

    tweets: Two PMs now gone in a week (Greece & Italy) which raises interesting q: who actually dunnit? are markets effectively deposing leaders... & if so is that new phenomenon, or age-old?


    US stocks closed higher on the news out of Italy with the Dow Jones up 102 points. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also registered modest increases.

    The Guardian's Matt Seaton

    tweets: I'm confused: is it a good day for Italian democracy or a good day for Italian bondholders if Silvio Berlusconi finally heads for the exit?

    Peter Nagliati from Turin, Italy

    writes: If our politicians are a mirror of society we will have to work hard to overcome the damaged fabric of this once splendidly happy and intelligent country. May it be a new beginning and I'll do my part.


    This concludes our coverage of another day of crisis in Italian politics, culminating in Silvio Berlusconi's offer to step down as prime minister. He has said he will not go until after the Italian parliament has approved a package of reforms to bolster Italy's economy, which is badly affected by the eurozone debt crisis.


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