Berlusconi Confirms He Will Resign After Parliament Passes Austerity Measures

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has confirmed that he will step down after parliament approves austerity measures pledged to European Union allies in order to secure European Central Bank purchases of Italian debt.

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“After the approval of this finance law, which has amendments for everything which Europe has asked of us and which the Eurogroup has requested, I will resign, to allow the head of state to open consultations,” he told Italy’s Canale 5 television.

Berlusconi’s comment confirms an earlier statement from President Giorgio Napolitano, and comes after his center-right coalition failed to secure an absolute majority in a crucial budget vote in the lower house, securing only 308 votes in the 630-seat Chamber of Deputies.

“This parliament today is paralized, as far as the lower house is concerned,” said Berlusconi. “In the Senate, the center-right still has a good majority. However, with the defection of seven members of the ruling majority today, the government does not have the majority we thought we had and so we have to take account of this situation realistically.”

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Berlusconi said Italy was in a “difficult position” with regard to financial markets, and needed to demonstrate its capability to institute serious reforms. The only realistic option was new elections, he added.