Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s longest-serving prime minister, resigned on Saturday, Nov. 12, forced to leave the Presidential Palace through a side door to jeers from the crowd outside, many chanting “Buffoon! Buffoon!” A choir expressed the sentiments of many Italians with a rendering of the “Hallelujah” chorus.
He was compelled to resign after failing to demonstrate majority support in a vote in the lower house of Parliament. After a face-saving delay to pass wide-ranging austerity measures, the Italian leader, who has dominated politics for 17 years, left office and opened the way for new a government tasked with shoring up Italy’s ailing economy.
One of politics’ greatest survivors in his eight-and-a-half years in power, Berlusconi managed to shrug off many scandals. In the last three years alone, he survived 50 votes of no confidence — likely a record that will never be surpassed. But an economic storm in the euro zone — one that raised Italian bond yields above seven percent and took the euro to the brink of catastrophe — finally pushed him out. The 75-year-old billionaire, long associated with sex scandals, inefficiency, and a failure to tackle Italy’s structural problems, was no longer deemed a credible figure to lead Italy through the crisis.
Over the years, Berlusconi became renowned for off-color remarks and personal scandal. Continue reading for some of the prime minister’s “greatest” hits that offended millions of his fellow countrymen and a good portion of the world’s leaders.
By Bianca Schlotterbeck
Posted 14 November 2011