Italy's Senate approved crucial economic reforms demanded by the European Union today, the first step in paving the way for Silvio Berlusconi to resign as early as this weekend and a transitional government to be formed. The 156-12 vote took place after respected economist Mario Monti—widely expected to become the interim prime minister—was welcomed with applause in the Senate chamber, where he was officially designated senator for life.
Italy's president bestowed the title on Monti two days earlier to signal to roiling financial markets that he intended to ask the 68-year-old former European commissioner to try to form a transitional government after Berlusconi leaves office. The reform legislation now passes to the lower Chamber of Deputies, which is expected to vote on it by tomorrow. A Cabinet meeting has been scheduled immediately after the vote, leading to speculation that Berlusconi might tender his resignation to Italy's president as early as tomorrow night. (Read more Italy stories.)