Berlusconi resigns in bid to stave off debt crisis threatening eurozone

PM will step down after parliament inks budget law that includes reforms sought by Europe
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Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has announced plans to step down this week after the pressure of global economic markets and the eurozone debt crisis finally took their toll on the long-time leader. Silvio Berlusconi dominated Italy for 17 years with a unique mix of political talent and brazen behaviour, but in the end it was market pressure from abroad that brought him down. (AFP/Getty Images, Text: part Reuters)
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Berlusconi confirmed on Tuesday he would stand down after a new budget law is approved in parliament. His main coalition partner, Umberto Bossi, called for his resignation ahead of the crucial vote on the budget, as Italy came under acute pressure from record borrowing rates to finance debt. (AFP/Getty Images, Text: part Reuters)
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Journalists stand in front of Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's residence prior to the vote on Italy's public accounts. (AFP/Getty Images)
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Bolstered by unrivalled communication skills and a dominance of Italian media, Berlusconi (L) had for years seemed immune to a series of controversies that would have destroyed a politician in most other parts of the world. (AFP/Getty Images, Text: Reuters)
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Berlusconi arrives for the second day of the G20 Summit on November 4, 2011 in Cannes, France. The media tycoon's biggest blunders include the lurid "Rubygate" scandal in which he was charged with having sex with an under-age prostitute, and a wave of salacious revelations from police wiretaps about alleged misdemeanours at his luxurious Milan villa.\n(Getty Images, Text: Reuters)
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Aged 75, he is one of Italy's richest men. Not only is he the owner of Italy's main private television channels and top-flight soccer team AC Milan, but he also made a fortune in a Milan construction boom. Currently however, he faces two ongoing fraud court cases, the latest in more than 30 prosecutions by magistrates he accuses of being communists bent on perverting democracy.\n(Getty Images, Text: Reuters)
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The Italian PM's career has been in decline for most of this year, his former mastery undermined by glaring misjudgments in local elections, three referendums as well as the loss of a key alliance. Above: Berlusconi on June 1, at Palazzo Chigi in Rome, listening to the government's undersecretary Gianni Letta, who played a key role in calming often fraught diplomatic situations. (AFP/Getty Images. Text: part Reuters)
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Berlusconi addresses a press conference during the second day of the G20 Summit in Cannes, France. The politician had seemed to have a good chance of hanging on to scheduled elections in 2013, until markets spooked by the Greek crisis turned on Italy, focusing on factors that had existed for years -\n stagnant growth and a debt mountain equal to 120 percent of GDP. (Getty Images, Text: Reuters)
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As the eurozone debt crisis rapidly accelerated, Italy's government bonds came under increasing pressure and the European Central Bank agreed in August to buy them in return for a tough austerity budget. Above: Berlusconi (R) and Mahmoud Jibril, deputy chairman of the National Transitional Council Executive Board attend a meeting on August 25, 2011 in Milan, Italy. (Getty Images, Text: Reuters)
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Berlusconi's agreement to resign came as Italian bond yields came close to the red line of 7 percent. He had already been forced to accept humiliating IMF monitoring of the reforms - fruit of international scepticism that he could implement them. (Getty Images, Text: Reuters)
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Deputies in his PDL party finally decided they had had enough and abandoned him in numbers, fearing their electoral support would be wiped out and seeing him as a liability. Above: A picture taken on October 23, shows the Italian leader in a meeting of Heads of State or Government of the Euro area as part of an European Council in Brussels. (AFP/Getty Images, Text: Reuters)
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Berlusconi's final demise was a far cry from 2008 when a landslide victory gave the media tycoon his strongest electoral mandate. He had been prime minister for longer than any postwar leader, painting himself as the only choice for the dominant conservative voting bloc and a bastion against communism. (AFP/Getty Images, Text: Reuters)