Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi Offers to Quit Power

For years, Mr. Berlusconi clung to power while fending off sex scandals and corruption trials.

In the end, however, the fall of Europe's most indefatigable politician came at the hands of a small group of trusted parliamentarians who cofounded his political party nearly two decades ago. When they finally struck, they targeted an Achilles' heel that only the euro-zone debt crisis could expose: the premier's inability to make Italy a prosperous country and develop a stable political culture in Europe's third-largest economy. That weakness belied years of promises made by the media mogul to apply his same entrepreneurial touch to getting the country back on track.

The European debt crisis appeared to claim its biggest victim on Tuesday when Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, cornered by the markets and humiliated by a parliamentary setback, pledged to resign after Italy’s Parliament passes austerity measures demanded by the European Union.