The full Monti: Mario unveils new Italian government
MARIO Monti, Italy’s new prime minister, has chosen a government of ex-bankers and technocrats, appointing himself economy minister, to prevent the country from being dragged deeper into the eurozone debt crisis.
No politicians have been included in the new administration, which was announced on Wednesday and consists of distinguished but largely unknown academics and financial experts.
Their task is to implement a package of austerity measures and public spending cuts which were passed by parliament in the dying days of Silvio Berlusconi’s government.
Mr Monti, nicknamed “Super Mario” for his intellect, diplomatic skills and 10-year record as a European competition commissioner, will as expected double up as both prime minister and economy minister.
He said he hoped the new government would be able to restore market confidence in Italy and bring to an end a period of heightened political tension.
The European Central Bank stepped in to buy Italian government bonds again this morning, Reuters reported, although yields still briefly went above 7pc - the level seen as unaffordable by financial markets - before coming back.
The post of infrastructure and economic development — a crucial job as Italy tries to boost its anaemic growth as well as implement austerity cuts — went to Corrado Passera, the chief executive officer of Italy’s biggest bank, Intesa SanPaolo.
Italy’s new foreign minister will be Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, the current ambassador to Washington.
The position of interior minister goes to one of three women in the new line-up: Anna Maria Cancellieri.
The justice minister - who will have jurisdiction over the four sex and corruption trials in which Mr Berlusconi is a defendant - will also be a woman, Paola Severino, a lawyer.
The defence portfolio went to Giampaolo Di Paola, a navy admiral.
The new administration, which replaces Mr Berlusconi’s conservative coalition after he was forced to step down on Saturday, is expected to announce details of its reform programme tomorrow.
It will then have to face confidence votes in the two houses of parliament in order to show that it has sufficient support to push through the reforms and cuts.
Emma Marcegaglia, the head of Confindustria, the employers’ association, said the Monti government was “the last chance” for the country to avert financial disaster.
The government has the support of most of Italy’s political parties, apart from the powerful Northern League and elements of Mr Berlusconi’s PDL party.
They have complained vociferously that he was forced to stand down not by a democratic process but by a “coup d’etat” engineered by the financial markets and the European Union.
Mr Berlusconi has said that he was not constitutionally obliged to resign, because the vote he lost in parliament last week was not a confidence vote, and that his decision to step down was an act of self-sacrifice and “responsibility”.
Roberto Maroni, one of Mr Berlusconi’s most senior former ministers, compared the supposed coup to “The Italian Job”, the 1969 British film starring Michael Caine.
“The truth is that there was a big operation, an ‘Italian Job’, to get Berlusconi out of the way by forcing him to resign”, the former interior minister told a television programme on Tuesday.