In a move that some Italians would say is seventeen years too late, Silvio Berlusconi, the EU's leather rocking-horse version of Hugh Hefner, tendered his resignation as Italian prime minister today. His resignation comes mere hours after the lower house of parliament approved an austerity package that was intended to boost confidence in Italy's faltering economy.
Following numerous corruption charges and sex scandals — including his infamous alleged poolside orgies, or "Bunga Bungas" — Berlusconi, who was first elected in 1994, has been a source of mockery and embarrassment to many Italians. The crowd outside the presidential palace broke into cheers and started singing the national anthem when news of his resignation reached them.
The thrice-elected, seventy-five-year old president was charged with having sex with an underage prostitute last fall, and, after many blamed him for putting the country on the verge of financial ruin, finally lost his majority on a routine budget vote in parliament last Tuesday. Berlusconi planned to step down after his austerity measures were passed through parliament, which included spending cuts and proposals to boost economic growth.
It's unclear who'll replace Berlusconi as prime minister at this point, but most bets are on former EU commissioner Mario Monti, who's gained support in the national and worldwide press as the "technocrat" needed to whip Italy's economy back into shape. Still, one can't help but mourn the loss of a man who brought us musical, vaguely erotic campaign videos like this one. Whatever you might think about il Cavaliere, without him Italy is about to get a lot less like a porn parody of Glee.