Letta seals deal for left-right Italian govt

Broad coalition admin to end two months of political deadlock

27 April, 18:54

    Letta seals deal for left-right Italian govt Letta seals deal for left-right Italian govt

    (By Paul Virgo) (ANSAmed) - Rome, April 27 - Premier designate Enrico Letta said Saturday he was ready to form a broad coalition government to end two months of political deadlock in Italy following February's inconclusive general election. Letta, of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), said he had shed his "reservation" about accepting a government-forming mandate from President Giorgio Napolitano after reaching a deal with other parties.

    He then present a relatively young government team, which will be sworn in on Sunday and probably face confidence votes in parliament on Monday and Tuesday.

    The executive should pass those votes as it has the backing of the PD, ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party - the two biggest groups in parliament - and outgoing Premier Mario Monti's Civic Choice party. But there are fears parts of the PD hostile to forming a government with the party of Berlusconi, who has been seen as their enemy for two decades, may vote against the new government. Saturday's breakthrough came after three days of talks between Letta and representatives of the other parties on ministerial posts and policy issue.

    If they had not reached an agreement the nation would probably have been forced to return to the polls with the same highly criticised election law that failed to produce a winner in February.

    Napolitano said the outcome was the "only government possible" and called on the country's political parties to unite behind the unprecedented left-right administration.

    "My hope is that there is maximum cohesion," said Napolitano, who had threatened to resign if no deal were reached after being re-elected head of State last week because the parties were unable to agree on a successor.

    The president added that the new government was the "fruit of a patient, tenacious effort by the premier designate and the political parties, who chose the path of cooperation despite the predictable difficulties they faced".

    Letta's cabinet will feature ministers from the PD, the PdL and Civil Choice, along with several highly respected institutional figures.

    As expected Berlusconi is not in the Cabinet. PdL Secretary Angelino Alfano will be deputy premier and interior minister.

    Former European commissioner Emma Bonino, a senior member of the small Radical Party, will be Italy's foreign minister. (ANSAmed).

    Bank of Italy Director General Fabrizio Saccomanni will be economy minister.

    The government will work on the basis of a programme Napolitano recently asked a group of experts, dubbed the 10 wise men, to prepare on key reforms, including a new electoral law.

    Letta's government is also expected to cut the number of MPs, turn the Senate into a regional chamber, pass urgent measures including tax breaks to boost the economy and create jobs, and possibly try to reform the justice system.

    Italy is in its deepest recession for 20 years and unemployment has hit new heights of over 11%.

    After February's election Napolitano first gave a mandate to then PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani to try to form a government after the coalition he had led came first in February but did not win a working majority in the Senate.

    Bersani ruled out forming a grand coalition with the PdL party and failed in a bid to reach out to the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), which won about a quarter of the vote, leaving the country in a situation of gridlock.

    Bersani quit as PD secretary last week after internal revolts sank two candidates he has proposed to be president. The M5S and the left-wing SEL party, which was allied with the PD in February's election, have both said they are opposed to the new government but will judge the legislation it proposes on merit.

    The regionalist Northern League, which was allied with the PdL in February, may provide "external support" for the executive without being part of it. (ANSAmed).

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