A chorus of Handel's "Alleluia" rang out Saturday as Silvio Berlusconi resigned as Italian premier, ending a tumultuous 17-year political era and setting in motion a transition aimed at bringing the country back from the brink of economic crisis.
Berlusconi stepped down amid jeers, cheers and heckles of "Buffoon" from thousands of people who packed downtown Rome to witness his government's downfall after a stunning week of market turmoil that upended his defiant hold on power and threatened to tear apart the eurozone.
Respected former European commissioner Mario Monti remained the top choice to try to steer the country out of its debt woes as the head of a transitional government. But the job is Herculean, given the enormity of reforms required and Italy's often-paralyzed parliament.
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