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Italian Parliament passed austerity measures


12:21, November 13, 2011

ROME, Nov. 12 (Xinhua) - The Italian Parliament passed on Saturday a package of austerity measures demanded by the European Union (EU), paving the way for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to resign and allow President Giorgio Napolitano to form a new government.

The lower house, or the House of Deputies, completed its vote on Saturday with 380 votes in favor, 26 in opposition and 2 abstention, after the budget package designed to restore markets' confidence had received the approval of the parliament's upper chamber, or the Senate on Friday.

Berlusconi had announced earlier this week that he would resign after these measures were approved in both houses of parliament, following a vote on Tuesday in which he lost the majority in the House.

After Berlusconi's resignation, President Giorgio Napolitano will start consultations with parties as soon as Saturday or Sunday, trying to form a new emergency technocrat government.

If such efforts fail, Napolitano would dissolve the parliament and call a snap election.

Respected economist and former European commissioner Mario Monti was nominated Wednesday by the president as a senator for life, which was seen by local media as a clear sign that he would be the best choice to replace Berlusconi.

In a signal that Monti himself was trying to consult as much as possible before the possible mandate, he met on Saturday in Rome with the new president of the European Central Bank (ECB), Mario Draghi.

After the meeting with new ECB's president, he had a meeting with Berlusconi which lasted for more than two hours, according to local news agency Ansa.

The Democratic Party, the country's largest opposition party, said it would support the idea of a technocrat government, but a consistent part of Berlusconi's coalition is seeking early elections.

Italian main industrial associations and trade unions pleaded Friday with politicians to agree on the formation of an emergency technocrat government.

"Waiting time is over. On Monday Italy must have a new emergency government with strong leadership and a larger consensus in Parliament," they said in a statement.

"All political forces, without exception, must contribute. Those who avoid this commitment will be responsible for leading the country in a dramatic situation of no return," the statement said.

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