Wednesday, April 24, 2013

We have a new Italian Prime Minister

Some readers of this blog may have missed the earth-shakingly important news from Italy: President Giorgio Napolitano has asked Enrico Letta to form a new government that would be a broad coalition (as opposed to a narrow one, I suppose).

Mr Letta is forty-six, which makes him rather young by Italian political standards and he is currently the Deputy-Leader of the centre-Left Democratic Party; his aim is to change the course in Europe on austerity though it is unclear to what. Economic growth, perchance? Just kidding.
Mr Letta must now form a cabinet that can win cross-party support and a vote of confidence in parliament, possibly this weekend.

Factions from across the political spectrum, including former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's right-wing People of Freedom Party, have indicated that they are now ready to form a coalition under a figure like Mr Letta.

However, Mr Berlusconi's party and the Democratic Party differ on a number of issues.

Party National Secretary Angelino Alfano warned that his group would not take part in a government unconditionally.

Mr Letta's uncle has been Mr Berlusconi's chief-of-staff for 10 years. A broad political alliance would again make Mr Berlusconi a major influence.
The Wall Street Journal says:
Mr. Letta—who at 46 would be one of Europe's youngest leaders—stressed that Italy's new government needed to focus on the country's economic woes. The country has been enduring its most prolonged recession since World War II, and the unemployment rate hit an all-time high of 11.7% in January of this year.

He also said that Italy quickly needed a new electoral law that would avoid a repeat of the political stalemate that has left the country without a government since elections on Feb. 24 and 25.

"I feel a huge sense of responsibility upon me," Mr. Letta said. "The situation is very difficult."

If the new government is voted in, as expected, it is nonetheless unclear how long it can last. Italy's political scene is as fractured as ever, and the country isn't used to grand right-left coalition governments like elsewhere in Europe.
One can but wish him luck and point out yet again that none of this would be more than of passing interest if it were not true that whoever heads the Italian government is also a member of our own real government.

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