x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Italy president names centre-left's Letta as new premier

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has asked the centre-left deputy leader Enrico Letta to form a new government, signalling the end of a damaging two-month vacuum since elections.

ROME // Italian President Giorgio Napolitano yesterday asked the centre-left deputy leader Enrico Letta to form a new government, signalling the end of a damaging two-month vacuum since elections.

The prime minister designate is expected to quickly select a group of ministers, mixed between politicians and technocrats, under the guidance of Mr Napolitano, whose own unprecedented re-election last weekend opened the way for an end to the crisis.

The new government led by Mr Letta, a former Christian Democrat from the right wing of his Democratic Party (PD), could go to parliament for a vote of confidence by this weekend.

Formation of a government after two months of turbulent political impasse will send a signal that Italy might at last be ready to make a start on much-needed reforms.

Accepting his mandate, Mr Letta said he was surprised by the nomination and felt the profound responsibility on his shoulders.

Italy faced a "difficult and fragile" situation which could not continue and the government must provide answers on jobs, poverty and the crisis facing small businesses in a deep recession, he said.

He added that European economic policies have been too focused on austerity instead of growth.

Mr Napolitano's choice of Mr Letta instead of veteran former Prime Minister Giuliano Amato, who was said to have been his original favourite, indicated he had plumped for a more political figure who reflects a generational change in Italian politics.

Mr Lett is 46 against Mr Amato's 74 and will be the second youngest prime minister in Italian history.