Mario Monti appointed as new Italian PM

10:29, 14 November 2011
World
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Italian President Giorgio Napolitano...

 Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Sunday appointed former EU Commissioner Mario Monti to head an emergency government after Silvio Berlusconi resigned on Saturday night, according to Xinhua.

Monti, a highly respected economist, was appointed prime minister at the conclusion of a series of meetings held between Napolitano and parties` leaders as well as Italy`s former presidents.

He is expected to push through austerity reforms asked by the European Union (EU) to cut Italy`s massive debt and regain market confidence after yields on its 10-year government bonds jumped over the 7-percent red line last week.

"I want to fulfill this task with great sense of responsibility and service towards our country. In a moment particularly hard for Italy, and troubled in Europe and in markets, Italy must meet the challenge of redemption," said Monti at a press conference soon after the appointment.

He added that Italy had to restart growing as "it is for our children to give them dignity and hope."

Earlier in the week, Berlusconi had lost majority at the parliament`s lower chamber and promised to resign as soon as the austerity measures was approved by both the parliament`s houses.

He went to presidential palace on Saturday evening to hand in his resignation soon after the lower house passed the austerity measures. The package cleared the upper house on Friday.

Monti, 68, served as a leading European Commission member between 1995 and 2004, gaining a reputation as a highly capable and tireless worker.

He is now due to present the list of the cabinet ministers to the president and then face a parliament confidence vote as soon as Monday or Tuesday, according to local media.

He received on Sunday the backing of the main opposition center-left Democratic Party and the conditional acceptance of Berlusconi`s center-right People of Freedom.

"After the appointment, we will meet with Monti and decide to say yes or no according to the composition of the government, its program and duration," the People of Freedom party`s Secretary Angelino Alfano said in an interview with State RAI television channel.

In fact, the new premier will have to face a tough battle with public and political opposition to implement the austerity measures, said analysts.

They include a pledge to raise 15 billion euros (20.6 billion U.S. dollars) from public real estate sales over the next three years and a gradual reduction in state ownership of local services.

The package also requires an increase in the standard retirement age to 67 by 2026, sets the stage for a liberalization of closed professions and labor laws within 12 months, and contains tax incentives for companies that hire apprentice workers.

Many economists also said the measures are not enough to take Italy out of a financial emergency, and Monti will have to push through further reforms.

The next elections are due in 2013. There is no official time limit for the technical government, although predictions say that Monti will make way for polls once he carries through the measures asked by the EU.

The last time Italy had a technical government was in 1995 and 1996, when technocrat Lamberto Dini headed a government that pushed through a series of election reforms after the collapse of Berlusconi`s first government.

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