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Ciao-a-bunga; ITALY CELEBRATES AS SHAMED BERLUSCONI QUITS FOR FINANCE WHIZ SUPER MARIO.

Byline: RYAN PARRY

IT'S bye to bunga-bunga and hello to sober common sense as Italy tries to prevent economic meltdown.

Last night respected economist Mario Monti replaced playboy Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as head of an emergency government.

Former EU Commissioner Mr Monti, nicknamed Super Mario for his financial know-how, is facing a rough ride.

Italy's national debt is pounds 1.7trillion and he will try to impose pounds 48billion of cuts to save it from bankruptcy.

Flamboyant billionaire Mr Berlusconi, famed for his bunga-bunga parties and sex scandals, was booed by thousands of protesters in Rome when he quit as PM on Saturday.

However Italy has a general election in April 2013 and 75-yearold Mr Berlusconi's career may not be over.

SILVIO He said: "I seem to be pretty good at winning elections so I think I may stick around and help with any election campaign."

Blonde Micaela Biancafiore, a member of Mr Berlusconi's People of Freedom Party, said his resignation had been an act of responsibility.

Mr Berlusconi had been in power since 2008 but his political career and personal life were dogged by controversy and scandal.

He had survived 50 votes of no confidence, been charged with having sex with an under-age prostitute, which he denies, and faced a wave of salacious revelations from police wiretaps about alleged orgies at his luxurious Milan villa.

He also faces two ongoing fraud court cases, the latest in more than 30 prosecutions by magistrates he accuses of being communists bent on perverting democracy.

The perma-tanned media tycoon, once a cruise ship crooner, was always unrepentant about a notoriously off-colour sense of humour. Foreign leaders avoided being photographed near him after he made a series of diplomatic gaffes and opponents accused him of turning Italy into a laughing stock around the world.

Critics said he spent more time protecting himself from criminal investigations and entertaining young starlets at his notorious "bunga-bunga" parties than governing the country. Mr Monti, 68, who likes to spend quiet nights in reading, last night said he will try to quickly form a new government to heal Italy's disastrous finances.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed signs of an end to weeks of uncertainty and said the approval of a reform package in parliament was "heartening". Mild-mannered father-oftwo Mr Monti, married for 30 years to Elsa, 67, is a highly intelligent, tough negotiator and head of Milan's distinguished Bocconi University. In his second term as an EU Commissioner he earned his Super Mario tag by taking on vested interests. He blocked a merger between General Electric and Honeywell, and battled Germany's powerful regional banks. He also launched a successful anti-trust case against Microsoft.

But his government could be brought down in months by political infighting and an inability to push through the unpopular reforms which will leave the average Italian pounds 850 a year worse off.

The cuts package includes raising the retirement age for women, increasing VAT from 20% to 21%, freezing salaries and pensions, raising fuel duties and cutting education and health budgets.

Italy is the eurozone's third largest economy and if it goes bankrupt it could mark the end of the single European currency and have serious consequences for Britain and the rest of the world.

Voice of the Mirror: Page 8 75-yearold SILVIO LIKES:Quiet night inFAMOUS V MARIO LIKES:Bunga-bunga FAMOUS FOR: Bunga-bunga QUITE LIKELY TO SAY: "Me Silvio.. you like-a go bunga-bunga pritty laydee" in his FOR: Economic theoryQUITE LIKELY TO SAY: "There is a case for quantitative easing"

CAPTION(S):

SOBER Z Financier Mario Monti takes over CHEERSJ Protesters celebrate Silvio's resignation JEERSJ Silvio after quitting
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 14, 2011
Words:605
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