Italy Senate OKs economic reform bill

By NICOLE WINFIELD | November 11, 2011 | 7:30 AM EST

ROME (AP) — Italy's Senate has approved economic reforms demanded by the European Union, paving the way for Premier Silvio Berlusconi to resign as early as this weekend and a new government to be formed.

The Senate voted 156-12 Friday to pass the budget bill, which contained the reform measures. The lower Chamber of Deputies is expected to approve the legislation by Saturday.

Berlusconi has promised to resign as soon as parliament passes the reforms.

There are mounting indications that respected economist Mario Monti will be tapped to head a transitional government to push through even more difficult reforms to pull Italy back from a Greek-style economic crisis that would threaten the existence of the entire eurozone and cause a global recession.