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              Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi claps his hands after the parliament paid respect to the memory of lawmaker Pietro Franzoso prior to the start of a voting session at the Lower Chamber, in Rome, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011. Premier Silvio Berlusconi won a much-watched vote Tuesday, but the result laid bare his lack of support in Parliament as financial pressure from the eurozone debt crisis pummeled Italy. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
              Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi claps his hands after the parliament paid respect to the memory of lawmaker Pietro Franzoso prior to the start of a voting session at the Lower Chamber, in Rome, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011. Premier Silvio Berlusconi won a much-watched vote Tuesday, but the result laid bare his lack of support in Parliament as financial pressure from the eurozone debt crisis pummeled Italy. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)   

End of an era: Italy’s Berlusconi resigns

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Kells Hetherington
Contributor

ROME (AP) — Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi has resigned, ending a 17-year political era and setting in motion a transition aimed at bringing the country back from the brink of economic crisis.

A chorus of Handel’s “Alleluia,” performed by a few dozen singers and classical musicians, rang out in front of the president’s palace as thousands of Italians poured into downtown Rome to rejoice at the end of Berlusconi’s scandal-marred reign.

Hecklers shouted “Buffoon, Buffoon!” – Italian for buffoon – as Berlusconi’s motorcade entered and exited the presidential palace, where he tendered his resignation to President Giorgio Napolitano.

Respected former European commissioner Mario Monti remained the top choice to try to steer the country out of its debt woes as the head of a transitional government.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

ROME (AP) – Italy’s presidential palace has confirmed that Premier Silvio Berlusconi has resigned, setting in motion a transition aimed at bringing Italy back from the brink of economic crisis.

Cheers broke out in front of the palace by the hundreds of people who gathered to witness Berlusconi’s final act in office, ending a 17-year political era.