A day after he promised to resign once Italy's budget reforms pass through parliament, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says he will not be a candidate at Italy's next election.
Berlusconi said on Wednesday that his successor, Angelino Alfano, will be at the helm of his PDL party at the country's next election, the Associated Press reported.
Berlusconi told Italy's La Stampa newspaper:
I will resign as soon as the law is passed and, since I believe there is no other majority possible, I see elections being held at the beginning of February — and I will not be a candidate in them.
Berlusconi won a key budget vote Tuesday morning, with just 308 votes, compared to an absolute majority in the lower house 316 votes, Reuters reported.
The opposition abstained and continued to call for the prime minister’s resignation.
After continuous calls to resign, Berlusconi promised Tuesday that he will step down next week, USA Today reported. He plans to resign after parliament passes critical economic reforms demanded by the European Union, the Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said.
Italian borrowing costs reached a new record after the resignation promise. The yield on Italian 10-year government bonds rose to more than 7 percent — the highest since the euro was founded in 1999, the BBC reported.
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Berlusconi met with Napolitano for an hour after the budget vote, USA Today reported. The budget law was expected to be passed at the end of this month, but it will possibly be pushed up sooner, to next week, Reuters reported.
"Once this engagement is fulfilled, the Prime Minister will hand in his mandate to the head of state who will proceed with appropriate consultations, paying close attention to the positions and proposals of all political forces," a statement from Napolitano said, Reuters reported.
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Just weeks ago on Oct. 14, Berlusconi won the confidence vote with the majority. Due to this change in votes, it may lead Italian President Giorgio Napolitano to call on Berlusconi to face a confidence vote again, Bloomberg reported.
As Berlusconi continued to be criticized for his country’s dire economic situation, more and more officials asked him to step down. Three of his party members crossed over to the opposition and six others called on him to leave, Bloomberg reported. On Monday, Umberto Bossi, one of Berlusconi’s key allies, publicly asked him to step down for the sake of Italy, The New York Times reported. The public announcement sent markets into a frenzy, with investors anxious over Italy’s outcome.
Following the vote Tuesday, American stocks wavered at the news, USA Today reported. On Monday, interest rates on Italy’s borrowed money spiked to 6.6 percent. Analysts feel that if the rate reaches 7 percent it will be unsustainable and Italy will have to accept a bailout, similar to Greece, USA Today reported.
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Berlusconi said he would decide his future based on the outcome of the votes, The Times reported. As the Wall Street Journal wrote, “Berlusconi could become the highest-profile victim of the euro zone crisis that has been ravaging the continent for the past two years.”
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