Italian PM Berlusconi resigns to form stronger coalition

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Italy's PM and cabinet resign

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi resigned on Wednesday, handing in his letter to Italy’s President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.

A statement from the President’s office said Berlusconi had tendered the resignation of his cabinet. This brings Italy’s longest-serving government since World War II to a close.

The Prime Minister pledged to form a stronger coalition government than the present one, which has been weakened by a sluggish economy and the Prime Minister’s close relationship with George Bush and the war in Iraq.

His Forza Italia party was crushed in regional elections this month. Two other parties, the centrist Christian Democrats and a tiny New Italian Socialist Party bailed out of his coalition, triggering the crisis.

Berlusconi addressed the Senate, then went to the Quirinale presidential palace and announced his resignation and his plans to form a new government. He stated that the coalition has a loose agreement to form a new government that will last until elections scheduled for next year. It is heavily speculated that the parties composing the coalition are still debating about which ministers to choose.

He added that the crisis itself and resignations were simply a process dictated by the laws more than a necessary step. He claimed that the anticipated election time is not an option (even though it was used as a threat by UDC and PSI parties a few days earlier).

He also said that a new government, still headed by him, will be welcomed by the entire center-right coalition.