Berlusconi asks Italy's ECB banker to resign
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Thursday that he has asked his countryman Lorenzo Bini Smaghi to resign from the executive board of the European Central Bank (ECB).
The request was made as a courtesy to France who had supported the candidacy of Mario Draghi, head of the Italian central bank, as new ECB president.
"There is an official government request for Bini Smaghi to resign," Berlusconi said after a cabinet meeting.
"To get France's agreement for Mario Draghi's candidacy, there has to be a Frenchman at the heart of the ECB, which could happen if Bini Smaghi resigns from the board," the prime minister said.
Bini Smaghi refused to comment when asked about Berlsuconi's request, Italian news agency ANSA said.
In May, Bini Smaghi said that he intended to complete his term on the ECB board which ends in 2013.
As the ECB is a politically independent institution, the central banker cannot be forced to resign.
During negotiations to replace current ECB chief and Frenchman Jean-Claude Trichet, France requested it have a seat on the central bank board for one if its citizens.
Bini Smaghi has been floated as a possible replacement to Draghi as head of the Italian central bank, although several other contenders are being considered.
© 2011 AFP