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Berlusconi: Resignation Rumors 'Are Groundless'

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi during the G-20 summit last Friday in Cannes, France.
Michel Euler
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi during the G-20 summit last Friday in Cannes, France.

It's never a good sign for a leader's longevity when he has to issue a statement like this:

"The rumors of my resignation are groundless."

That's from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi this morning, on his official Facebook page.

As The Associated Press writes, earlier today:

"Italy's borrowing rates spiked to a new euro high ... and talk of early elections grew, as pressure mounted on ... Berlusconi to resign so a new government could pass the economic reforms that Italy needs avoid a financial disaster."

Of course, Berlusconi is a survivor. He's on trial in Milan, as the AP says, over "charges including corruption, tax fraud and accusations that he paid for sex with an underage Moroccan teen."

"Berlusconi has proclaimed his innocence in all three active cases," AP adds, "including a corruption trial in which he is accused of ordering the payment of $600,000 in 1997 to a British lawyer to lie in court to protect Berlusconi. [He] has been the subject of numerous probes, mostly in Milan and related to his business empire, and has accused magistrates of a campaign to oust him from power. In all cases so far he has been been acquitted or cleared when the statute of limitations expired."

Berlusconi, a 75-year-old billionaire, has been prime minister off and on since 1994, as this BBC profile shows. He's twice come back from election defeats, most recently to be put back into office in 2008.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.