Martedì, 16 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Letta wins left-right plaudits with maiden speech

English
© ANSA

(By Denis Greenan).
Rome, April 29 - Premier Enrico Letta won plaudits
from both parts of his unprecedented left-right coalition with
his maiden speech to parliament Monday, asking for the
confidence of the House.
Letta, 46, Italy's third-youngest premier, earned applause
from his own centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and ex-premier
Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party with a pledge
to focus on stoking growth and creating jobs, especially for the
young, after more than a year of austerity which has deepened
the recession and pushed unemployment to new heights.
He pleased the PD, in particular, with a vow to change the
widely criticised electoral law that helped produce a hung
parliament in February, while turning the Senate into a regional
assembly so a majority in the House is sufficient to govern.
And he addressed a hobby-horse of the PdL in saying that
taxes, including an unpopular property levy called IMU, would be
rejigged.
Other parts of his speech that appealed to both sides were
vows to abolish double wages for ministers, do away with
expensive and superfluous provincial administrations, avoid a
VAT hike this year and find funds to help laid-off workers and
people left without jobs or pensions by a controversial reform
introduced at the height of the euro crisis by Mario Monti's
previous government.
The PD and PdL also lauded plans to give benefits to large
and needy families, fight corruption, "revolutionise" party
funding which has spawned scandals across the political
spectrum, and cut taxes on forms and workers without raising
spending.
He also said he would meet both parties' demands to get the
European Union to ease budget restrictions to allow for
pump-priming measures.
Letta's pledge to stop payments of IMU from June
was "music to our ears" said PdL secretary Angelino Alfano,
deputy premier and interior minister.
The outgoing leader of the PD, Pier Luigi Bersani, hailed
Letta's platform as "the right one to tackle the enormous
problems facing the country".
Letta also raised cross-party morale by comparing his
new right-left government to the biblical figure of David "in
front of the Goliath of giant challenges".
He encouraged politicians to strip themselves of their
"swords and amour" weighing them down.
"We need courage and faith to shed political caution,"
Letta said.
Letta told the parties supporting his broad coalition to
focus on the job at hand and not their many differences.
Letta, acting leader of the PD after Bersani's resignation,
was sworn in as premier on Sunday after reaching a deal to end
Italy's two-month post-election deadlock with the PdL and the
Monti's Civic Choice group.
It is an unprecedented, and many would argue unnatural,
grand coalition and the government may be short-lived.
"I'd like to highlight the difference between politics, as
in a dialectic, and policies, as in concrete solutions to
concrete problems," Letta told the House.
"If we concentrate on politics, the differences will
immobilize us. If we concentrate on policies, we will do a
service to the country by improving citizens' lives.
"We win or we lose together".
The speech did not please everyone, however.
Members of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S),
which sees the PD and PdL as discredited protagonists of a
corrupt and dysfunctional system, hurled insults at Letta and
his newly formed government.
M5S MP Andrea Colletti accused Letta's left-right
coalition of being "a stroke of paint (covering) an
irreparably moldy wall".
Colletti attacked Letta's choice of Alfano as interior
minister, calling it "mafia negotiations and a gag to the
judicial system".
"It is all a family plot," Colletti said, referring to
Letta's relation to his uncle Gianni, a former newspaper editor
and TV host who has been Berlusconi's longtime chief of staff.
Letta is expected to easily win the confidence of the House
Thursday evening before earning a narrower win in the Senate
Tuesday.
But he warned that he would not stay at the helm of
government unless he saw real movement on reforms.
"I will quit if I don't see sufficient action in the next
18 months," he said.

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