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Sunday, 28 April 2013





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Italy’s leftist Letta has new government in sight

27 April AFP

Italian leftist Enrico Letta was expected to reveal yesterday whether he has succeeded in uniting the eurozone heavyweight's feuding parties or needs more time to end a two-month political stalemate.

The moderate Letta, who has led two days of consultations with the parties in a bid to form a coalition government, was said by sources close to his staff to be on the point of persuading the bickering left and right to work together.

Once differences between Italy's centre-left Democratic Party and Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party have been ironed out, Letta will formally accept the nomination of prime minister from President Giorgio Napolitano.

He will then be sworn in along with his new cabinet, before a handover ceremony with the departing Mario Monti, whose government has limped on in a caretaker capacity since the former EU commissioner resigned in December. If he is sworn in on Saturday, Letta is likely to take Sunday to draft up his inaugural speech to parliament, which he will give on Monday, according to Italian media reports.

The government will then be put to confidence votes in the two houses of parliament. The prime minister-designate said after talks with the main parties on Thursday that his attempt to put together a grand coalition had encountered “difficulties”, and there were signs Friday that negotiations were dragging on.

The 46-year-old has said he wants to move quickly to tackle the social fallout of a painful recession and ease the austerity measures implemented by Monti, but cross-party unity has come with demands attached.

Negotiations have been trickiest with the scandal-tainted billionaire tycoon Berlusconi, whose votes his government will depend on, and who has insisted on the abolition and repayment of a controversial housing tax introduced in 2012.



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