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Thousands rally in Rome to press Italy’s prime minister to resign

11-07-2011 13:24 BJT

Italy’s opposition turned out en masse on the streets of Rome Saturday to demand Silvio Berlusconi’s resignation, accusing the prime minister of dragging the country into bankruptcy and global shame.

However, the 75-year-old “Cavaliere,” back to his defiant self after returning from Cannes, where the G20 humiliatingly placed Italy’s economy under surveillance, tried to dispel mounting speculation he could step aside.

With “Silvio out!” as a rallying cry, tens of thousands of people heeded the call by the main left-wing Democratic Party and rallied to pile pressure on Berlusconi.

Energized by the large turnout, Democratic Party boss Pier Luigi Bersani blamed Berlusconi for Italy’s financial woes and joined a growing chorus demanding early elections.

Europe’s leaders fear that a collapse of Greece’s economy could have a domino effect and spread to the much larger economies of Italy and Spain next.

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said that Italy’s main problem was “a lack of credibility.”

The billionaire prime minister played down the gravity of the economic crisis with a trademark quip, claiming that “restaurants are full and the planes fully booked.”

Berlusconi’s popularity ratings have hit a record low of 22 percent, according to the latest poll released on Wednesday.

“I am sorry to disappoint those who are nostalgic of the First republic when governments lasted an average of 11 months,” Berlusconi said in a statement.

My sense of “responsibility vis-a-vis the voters and the country ... compels me and the government to continue our struggle for civilization at a difficult time of crisis,” he said.

Editor:Zhang Jianfeng |Source: Global Times

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