After the rapid passage of the economic austerity measures through both houses of parliament on 12 November Silvio Berlusconi has resigned as prime minister.

Crowds in Rome booed and jeered the prime minister as he made his way to the Quirinale palace to hand his resignation to the president of the republic, Giorgio Napolitano. And as the resignation was announced people partied and celebrated in the streets of the city.

Mario Monti, recently appointed a life senator, is expected to be asked by Napolitano to explore the possibility of forming a new government after consultation with representatives of all political parties.

Monti will then have to be sure that he has a large enough majority in parliament if he is to succeed in leading the country through its present economic and political difficulties.