Letta hails strong cabinet with 'record' women presence

First black minister among seven female cabinet members

27 April, 20:27

    (ANSAmed) - Rome, April 27 - Italy's next premier Enrico Letta on Saturday hailed his relatively young, new cabinet, saying it marked a landmark for women's participation in an executive.

    A third of the cabinet that will be sworn in on Sunday - seven out of 21 ministers - are women.

    The executive feature ministers from Letta's centre-left Democratic Party (PD), ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party and outgoing Premier Mario Monti's Civil Choice party, along with several highly respected institutional figures.

    "I want to express my satisfaction, my sober satisfaction, at the government team," Letta said.

    "Skills have been put at the service of the country to create a team that has a record female presence and sees the cabinet rejuvenated". The women government members include Cecile Kyenge, a doctor who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and is set to become Italy's first black minister. The 48-year-old PD MP will be Integration minister.

    "Letta's decision represents a key step for concrete change in Italy and for the way of seeing the integration that is already present in the country," said Kyenge.

    Josefa Idem, another PD MP, will be the first Olympian to be part of an Italian cabinet.

    The German-born former athlete, who took part in eight Olympics up to last the 2012 London Games and won gold in the K 1 500 kayak canoeing at the 2000 Games in Sydney, will be the minister for equal opportunities and sport. One of the government's most important positions, foreign minister, has gone to former European commissioner Emma Bonino, a senior member of the small Radical Party.

    Anna Maria Cancellieri, the interior minister in outgoing Premier Mario Monti's emergency technocrat government, switches to justice minister. PdL lawmakers Beatrice Lorenzin and Nunzia De Girolamo take over at the ministries of health and agriculture respectively and the PD's Maria Chiara Carrozza becomes education minister. As expected the new cabinet is relatively young and features few PD and PdL heavyweights.

    The most senior PdL member of the cabinet is party Secretary Angelino Alfano, who will be deputy premier and interior minister.

    In part this is a response to public disenchantment with the established political class, which has been hit by a series of corruption scandals and is widely seen to have failed to address many of the country's economic woes.

    This disenchantment was seen as a crucial factor in the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement capturing around a quarter of the vote in February's inconclusive general election.

    Fresh faces in the cabinet may also help contribute to positive climate, some experts say, after the bitterness of the disputes between the PD and PdL big guns in recent years.

    The other PdL ministers are Senator Gaetano Quagliariello (Constitutional reform) and Maurizio Lupi (infrastructure). From his own party, Letta selected in addition to the previously mentioned - Padua Mayor Flavio Zanonato (industry), Andrea Orlando (environment), Graziano Delrio (regional affairs), Massimo Bray (culture and tourism) and Carlo Trigilia (territorial cohesion). Among the non-political figures in the government is Bank of Italy Director General Fabrizio Saccomanni, who will be economy minister.

    Enrico Giovannini, the president of national statistics agency Istat, takes over at the labour ministry, and Filippo Patroni Griffi, civil service minister under Monti, will become cabinet undersecretary. Monti's European Affairs Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi keeps his job and Civic Choice's Senate whip Mario Mauro becomes defence minister.

    Gianpiero D'Alia of the centrist UDC party that supports the outgoing premier becomes civil service minister. (ANSAmed).

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