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Silvio's last stand

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Silvio's last stand


This should be Silvio Berlusconi’s last day as Italian prime minister, although these days nothing is certain.

If everything goes to schedule Berlusconi will step down this evening after Italy’s lower house follows the lead of the upper house and ratifies a package of economic reforms to reverse a collapse of market confidence.

Then negotiations on a new government will start.

Former European Commissioner Mario Monti has been widely tipped to lead a largely technocratic administration to head off the immediate crisis, with elections coming at a later date.

But there is growing opposition to the man they call Super Mario.

Some parties say they want a snap election instead, despite the European Union stating clearly it believes it is critical Italy does not follow that path.

Brussels fears it would delay crucial reforms and upset markets.

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