Berlusconi asked to quit after humiliation in budget vote.

Berlusconi loses majority



Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has confirmed he will stand down after a new budget law is approved in parliament.Mr Berlusconi made the decision to quit after a humiliating blow in a parliamentary budget vote earlier in the day."After the approval of this finance law, which has amendments for everything which Europe has asked of us and which the Eurogroup has requested, I will resign, to allow the head of state to open consultations," he told his own Canale 5 television.Earlier the Italian PM told president Giorgio Napolitano he will step down after parliament passes a key austerity bill next week.Mr Berlusconi only won a crunch parliamentary vote on budget policy overnight because the centre-left opposition abstained.He secured only 308 votes in the 630-seat chamber of deputies, indicating he no longer had an absolute majority.Even his closest political allies asked him to step down after financial markets pushed interest rates on Italian borrowing to record levels close to 7 per cent - the same level which prompted Ireland and Portugal to ask for bailouts.