Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has announced the country’s long-ruling Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will step down from his position after austerity measures are implemented. Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister – who had been in power for two decades – failed to muster an absolute majority in a parliamentary ballot focused on budget reforms. Italy agreed to implement structural reforms during a European Union meeting in Brussels last month. President Napolitano said the reforms must be put in place or risk Italy’s credibility in the international community. Berlusconi’s failure to secure an absolute majority during voting fuelled further calls for him to resign, amid Italy’s struggles to convince investors it can fund itself. Berlusconi won 308 votes in the 630-seat Chamber of Deputies. The lower house had failed to pass the measure in an initial ballot last month, prompting a confidence motion that the premier won on Oct. 14th. Since then, Berlusconi has faced defections that threatened to bring down his government. Even Umberto Bossi, his closest political ally and leader of the party that has kept him in power, urged him to step aside before today’s vote. Opposition lawmakers – and even some of Berlusconi’s supporters – chose to abstain as they did not want to prevent the budget being approved, since it is necessary for the government to function, but equally, they did not want to lend Berlusconi any support.
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