Silvio Berlusconi is a former Italian prime minister. He won a third term as prime minister in 2008. On Nov. 8, 2011, reports said he would resign after passing an austerity bill called the "Stability Bill."
Berlusconi was pressured to resign in November of 2011, with many saying Italy ran a real risk of losing access to financial markets after yields on government bonds approached 7 percent. Although there had been many calls for his resignation. He never listened to any calls to resign before his term would end in 2013.
By late 2011, Italy was the Eurozone's third-largest economy, with debts of around €1.9 trillion ($2.6 trillion). Representing 17 percent of the Eurozone's gross domestic product (GDP), it was considered too big for Europe to bail out like the continent already had done for Greece, Portugal and Ireland.
In October of 2012, Berlusconi was found guilty of tax fraud and sentenced to four years in prison. He was expected to appeal the verdict and was not expected to go to prision because of Italian restrictions against putting someone his age behind bars.
He is also the owner of one of Italy's top football teams, the leader of a media empire and the richest man Italy.
The pressure on Berlusconi to resign continued after his country's Parliament approved the government's budget — but with less than the 316 votes he needed to maintain a ruling majority. The budget got 308 aye votes. But 321 members abstained from voting.
In 1993, Berlusconi founded his own political party, Forza Italia or Go Italy - named after a chant used by fans of AC Milan. A year later he became prime minister, forming a coalition with the right-wing National Alliance and Northern League. However rivalries between the three leaders, coupled with Berlusconi's indictment for alleged tax fraud, led to the collapse of the government just seven months later. He lost the 1996 election to the left-wing Romano Prodi. Berlusconi spent the next few years re-organizing his party. In 2001 he took power again, in coalition once more with his former partners. However, further accusations of embezzlement, tax fraud and false accounting followed Berlusconi and culminated in a narrow election defeat in 2006. He lost once again to old rival Romano Prodi. After Prodi's resignation in 2008, Berlusconi won a third term.
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