Enrico Letta, a 46-year-old career politician whose uncle was Silvio Berlusconi's long-time chief of staff, is due to become the youngest Italian prime minister in a generation.
Mr Letta, the former deputy leader of the centre-left Democratic Party, was summoned by President Giorgio Napolitano yesterday and handed the tough task of giving Italy a stable government, two months after elections produced a political stalemate, and four months after the resignation of Mario Monti's technocrat government.
Mr Letta said Italy's politicians had "lost all credibility" and that he faced an enormous responsibility.
He said the country "needed answers" and had previously promised to "strongly commit to a change of course for European policies too focused on austerity, which is no longer enough".
He will now seek to appoint a cabinet representing the centre-left and Mr Berlusconi's People of Freedom party. Mr Berlusconi and the Democratic Party have previously pledged to respect Mr Napolitano's choice after they failed to forge a coalition government.
The appointment of Mr Letta, who in 1998 became Italy's youngest ever government minister at the age of 32, breaks with the pattern of ageing leaders. He would become the youngest prime minister since Giovanni Goria in 1987.
A committed europhile, Mr Letta has served in four centre-left governments, and was appointed deputy leader of the Democratic Party in 2009. (© Daily Telegraph, London)