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Berlusconi in resignation deal over ECB

Friday 17 June 2011 - by Nicola York

Mario Draghi

European Central Bank executive board member Lorenzo Bini Smaghi has been asked to quit his position in order to avoid having two Italians on the board when Mario Draghi takes up his expected appointment as head of the bank.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said that he asked Bini Smaghi to step down to ensure that France would back Bank of Italy governor Mario Draghi's candidacy for the role.

France will not have a representative on the board of the ECB once Jean-Claude Trichet steps down as president in November.

But Bini Smaghi's eight-year term does not end until 2013 and he is resisting pressure to resign.

Following a speech at the Vatican in Rome on Thursday, he said: "I have been to the Vatican this morning and I spoke of Thomas More."

He went on to say that More "followed his conscience even at the cost of displeasing the sovereign" in a strong hint that he will not be pushed out.

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