It's hard to believe, but Silvio Berlusconi's reign as Italian prime minister appears to be over. The 75-year-old media mogul -- assailed by a stagnant economy, ballooning debt, and eroding political support -- won a budget vote on Tuesday but failed to garner the support of a majority in Italy's lower house of parliament. And now several news outlets are reporting that Berlusconi, after meeting with Italian Giorgio Napolitano, has agreed to resign and make way for early elections so long as parliament passes an austerity package that will likely be voted on this month.
The news is particularly striking because the Italian leader has earned a reputation as one of the world's wiliest political survivors. Incredibly, he's survived over 50 confidence votes since assuming power for a third time in 2008, and has improbably rebounded from all manner of sex scandals and legal dramas. Curiously enough, it turned out to be the economy -- not the corruption charges or the sex scandals -- that brought down the billionaire businessman who founded his political party around free-market principles. Here's a look at Berlusconi's rise and fall and rise and fall and ... well, you get the picture.
Above, Berlusconi attends a press conference at the G-20 Summit in Cannes, France, last week.
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