Berlusconi confirms he will not run again for office

 

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi has confirmed he will not run again for office and said his hand-picked successor Angelino Alfano will be his party's candidate when Italy holds new elections.

Mr Berlusconi yesterday promised to resign once parliament passes economic reforms demanded by the European Union to prevent Italy from being swept up further into Europe's debt crisis.

It will take a few weeks for both houses to pass the legislation.

Once Mr Berlusconi steps down, President Giorgio Napolitano must begin consultations to form a new government.

Mr Berlusconi wants elections in early 2012.

He told La Stampa: "I won't be a candidate, actually I feel liberated. It's Alfano's turn."

Mr Berlusconi met for about an hour last night with Mr Napolitano after losing his parliamentary majority during a routine vote earlier in the day.

In a statement, Mr Napolitano's office said Mr Berlusconi had "understood the implications of the vote" and promised to resign once parliament passes economic reforms designed to revive growth and control Italy's public debt.

A vote on the measures is planned for next week.

Mr Berlusconi's government is under intense pressure to enact quick reforms to shore up Italy's defences against Europe's raging debt crisis.

However, a weak coalition and doubts over Mr Berlusconi's leadership ignited market fears of a looming Italian financial disaster that could bring down the 17-nation eurozone and shock the global economy.

Italy's borrowing rates spiked yesterday to their highest level since the euro was established in 1999.

The yield on Italy's ten-year bonds was up 0.24 percentage point at 6.77 %. A rate of over 7 % is considered unsustainable and proved to be the trigger point that forced Greece, Portugal and Ireland into accepting financial bailouts.

In a dramatic shift from his usually defiant tone, Mr Berlusconi conceded last night he no longer had a parliamentary majority and would step aside for the good of the country.

"The markets don't believe that Italy is capable, or has the intention of approving these reforms," he told his private Mediaset television.

"Things like who leads or who doesn't lead the government" is less important than doing "what is best for the country," he said.

The president's office said that once he resigns, Mr Napolitano would begin political consultations to form a new government.

Mr Napolitano's statement made no mention of the possibility of elections, but Mr Berlusconi said he thought that was the best solution.

Mr Berlusconi's allies are keen to have new elections before Parliament can reform Italy's electoral system which has favoured the centre-right by giving the top vote-getting party a bonus of seats in the legislature.

The developments capped a convulsive day in the markets and in Italy's political circles after parliament approved the 2010 state accounts, but dealt Mr Berlusconi a withering blow by revealing that he no longer commands enough support to govern.

Mr Berlusconi garnered 308 votes of approval and none against in the Chamber of Deputies. But 321 deputies abstained from voting - most from the opposition centre-left - a tactic that laid bare his shrinking hold.

His margin was eight shy of the 316 votes he needs to claim an overall majority in the 630-member chamber.

"This government does not have the majority!" thundered opposition leader Pierluigi Bersani after the vote. "If you have a crumb of sense in front of Italy, give your resignation."

As Mr Bersani spoke, Mr Berlusconi scribbled his options on a piece of paper. An AP photo showed he wrote "resignation" and also "eight traitors," an apparent reference to former allies who had abstained.

Italy is the eurozone's third-largest economy, with debts of around 1.9 trillion euro (£1.63 trillion). Representing 17 % of the eurozone's gross domestic product, it is considered too big for Europe to bail out like Greece, Portugal and Ireland already have been.

Even worse, a substantial part of Italy's debt needs to be rolled over in coming months and years - the nation needs to raise 300 billion euro (£257 billion) in 2012 alone - just as interest rates for it to borrow have been soaring.

AP

Suggested Topics
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
Life and Style
fashion David Beckham fronts adverts for his underwear collection
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape