2005: Setbacks and comebacks
Italy's ruling coalition collapsed in April after suffering a stinging defeat in regional polls as the economy sputtered. Analysts framed the results as a referendum on the embattled premier, and even Berlusconi's coalition allies lashed out at him. "This drop in popularity for Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi heralds a storm that it would be suicidal to underestimate," a commentary in Italy's Il Sole 24 Ore declared, per a BBC translation. "Berlusconi must come up with a comeback ploy pretty soon if he wants to avoid going under."
In fact, Berlusconi did just that. He resigned, only to reshuffle his cabinet, revamp his coalition's platform, and form a new government just days later. Berlusconi told the Italian news agency ANSA that he would consider stepping down as prime minister if he was able to fuse his center-right coalition into a single, stable party. "It's not my ambition to be irreplaceable," he explained. (Fast forward to 2011, when the embattled Berlusconi argued there was "no one else capable" of leading Italy.)
Above, Berlusconi participates in the swearing-in ceremony of Italy's new government in April 2005 with then-Italian deputy premier Giulio Tremonti (on left) and then-Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.
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