Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi officially resigned Saturday, ending the longest-running terms of office in his country.
Berlusconi rode to the presidential palace amid the jeers of more than a thousand Romans that gathered to celebrate his departure.
Some were cracking open champagne, and shouting “Clown! Clown!” – the traditional insult yelled at disgraced Italian politicians – as Berlusconi stepped from his car into Quirinale palace. He left via a side entrance to avoid the crowd. At his own residence, another mob was chanting “Jail, jail, jail!”
The Italian news agency Ansa quoted Berlusconi as telling his aides, “This is something that deeply saddens me.”
The 75-year-old prime minister had failed to secure a majority in a parliamentary vote Tuesday over measures demanded by European Union partners to restore market confidence in the country's stressed finances. The European debt crisis has already threatened Greece, Portugal, Spain and France.
The now-former Italian prime minister has been a good friend to Israel.
More than a year ago, Berlusconi began a three-day trip to the Jewish State by saying that Israel should be a member of the European Union. He also spoke of his “great friendship and love for Israel and its people.”
Eight Italian ministers accompanied the prime minister on his trip to Jerusalem in February 2010, which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called “historic” at the time.
The two men are considered close, and Netanyahu's first state visit in 2009 was to Italy.
Berlusconi was the longest-serving post-war Prime Minister of Italy, and the third longest-serving since the country's establishment. In 2011, he was ranked by Forbes Magazine as the 118th richest man in the world, with a net worth of $7.8 billion.
That having been said, his career has been marked with controversies over conflicts of interest in various business ventures and a number of sex scandals.
It is expected that former European Commissioner Mario Monti will be asked by President Giorgio Napolitano by Sunday night to create a new coalition government.