Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi resigned today after parliament's lower chamber passed European-demanded reforms, ending a 17-year political era and setting in motion a transition aimed at bringing the country back from the brink of economic crisis. A chorus of Handel's "Alleluia," performed by a few dozen singers and classical musicians, rang out in front of the president's palace as thousands of Italians poured into downtown Rome to rejoice at the end of Berlusconi's scandal-marred reign.
Hecklers shouted "Buffoon, Buffoon!" as Berlusconi's motorcade entered and exited the presidential palace, where he tendered his resignation. 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 Berlusconi's allies remained split over whether to support him. Economic reforms demanded by Europe paved the way for Berlusconi to leave office, as he promised to do after losing his parliamentary majority earlier in the week. (Read more Silvio Berlusconi stories.)