Mario Monti forms new Italian government
Rome: Economist Mario Monti announced Wednesday he has formed a new Italian government, opting to put technocrats instead of bickering politicians in his cabinet to enact reforms that can save the country from financial disaster.
Monti told reporters at the president's palace that for the time being he will serve as economy minister as well as premier, as he seeks to implement what he called "sacrifices" to heal the country's finances and set the economy growing again.
The 68-year-old former European Union competition commissioner, along with his new cabinet ministers, will be sworn in the early evening (1600 GMT), formally ending the 3 1/2-year-old government of Silvio Berlusconi as well as his 17-year-long run of political dominance.
Monti said he would lay out his emergency anti-crisis policies in the Senate on Thursday, ahead of a confidence vote. A second vote, in the lower Chamber of Deputies, will follow, likely on Friday.
He stressed that economic "growth" is a priority.
In explaining why he chose his ministers from outside the ranks of Italy's fractious political parties, Monti said that his consultations with party leaders led him to the conclusion "that the non-presence of politicians in the government would help it."
Monti has said Italy can beat the crisis if its largely polarized citizenry — often bitterly divided over Berlusconi's long tenure — can pull together. He has also met with union leaders and employers' representatives.
"I hope that, governing well, we can make a contribution to the calming and the cohesion of the political forces."
The shift in power to a technocratic government has caused bickering within Berlusconi's conservative People of Freedom Party, which eventually endorsed Monti. But Berlusconi's main coalition ally, the Northern League, has announced it will stay in the opposition during Monti's government.