Mercoledì, 19 Settembre 2018
ROME

Enrico Letta handed government mandate from Napolitano

English
© ANSA

(By Paul Virgo)
Rome, April 24 - Enrico Letta, the deputy secretary
of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), was given a mandate to
form a new government from Italian President Giorgio Napolitano
on Wednesday.
Napolitano wants Letta, 46, to be the premier of a
government that has wide cross-party backing to end two months
of political deadlock after February's inconclusive general
election, with problems piling up for the recession-hit nation.
Letta accepted the mandate with "reservation" ahead of
talks with other parties.
If the 46-year-old former minister thinks he has sufficient
support, he is likely to put a government up for votes of
confidence in the Upper and Lower House later this week so it
can then be sworn in.
"The road has opened to the formation of the government
that the country urgently needs and has waited too long for,"
said Napolitano.
"This is the only option possible, a broad agreement
between the political parties that can guarantee a majority".
The head of State, who reluctantly agreed be to re-elected
Saturday after Italy's squabbling parties failed to agree on a
successor to him, chose a centre-left candidate as the PD is the
biggest party in parliament.
However, the party is also ravaged by rifts, as seen by
Pier Luigi Bersani quitting as PD chief at the weekend after two
candidates he proposed for president were scuppered by rebels
within its ranks.
Ex-premier Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party and
outgoing Premier Mario Monti's Civic Choice party have said they
will back a broad coalition government.
But the PDL has warned it will not back a Letta
administration unless the PD gets firmly behind a joint
left-right executive, which Bersani always opposed and is
abhorrent to many on the centre-left.
"We won't give our support to one of them (Letta) if they
don't get real, visible support (from the PD)," said PdL
Secretary Angelino Alfano.
"If it's a question of having any little government that
risks being short-lived, they can do what they want, but we
won't be part of it".
The PD's whips in the House and Senate both said a Letta
government would have "convinced" support of the whole party.
The government should work on the based of a programme
Napolitano recently asked a group of experts, dubbed the 10 wise
men, to to pass key reforms, including a new electoral law to
replace the one that did not deliver a winner in February.
The administration is likely to include institutional
figures and PD, PdL and Civic Choice politicians, unlike Monti's
emergency government, which is made up of unelected technocrats.
The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) has said it is
against this sort of coalition government and so is the
left-wing SEL party, which was allied with the PD in February's
election.
After February's election Napolitano first gave a mandate
to Bersani to try to form a government after the coalition he
had led came first in February but did not win a working
majority in the Senate.
But he ruled out forming a grand coalition with the PdL
party and failed in a bid to reach out to the M5S, which won
about a quarter of the vote, leaving the country in a situation
of gridlock.
Napolitano said the parties had behaved irresponsibly and
has threatened to quit if they refuse to form a stable
government this time.
"If I find myself once again facing the kind of deafness I
ran into in the past, I will not hesitate to draw the
consequences," Napolitano said after being sworn in for the
second time on Monday.
There was speculation Napolitano wanted to give the mandate
to another senior centre-left figure, two-time premier Giuliano
Amato, but opted not to because of fears parts of the PD would
rebel in a confidence vote in parliament on an administration
led by the 74-year-old.
Amato, who has a much higher international profile than
Letta, is associated with a discredited part of the old
political class by some people.
Letta, the nephew of centre-right leader Silvio
Berlusconi's long-time chief of staff Gianni Letta, is a
moderate and is seen as having more support from the so-called
young Turks in the party.
But he is also considered close to Bersani and is not the
ideal candidate for some PD MPs.
Rosy Bindi, who quit as PD president at the weekend, has
said she was opposed to Letta being premier and to the PD being
part of a broad coalition government.
Letta served as European affairs minister and industry
minister in Massimo D'Alema's 1998-2001 centre-left government.
He was cabinet undersecretary in Romano Prodi's 2006-2008
government.
It is not yet clear whether the Northern League will back a
Letta administration after saying it would never back a
government led by Amato, who had two short stints as premier
between 1992 and 1993 and 2000 and 2001.

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