Enrico Letta nominated as Italy's new prime minister

Former deputy leader of the centre-left Democratic party to form new government

Milan

The two-month political vacuum that has existed in Italy since February’s inconclusive general election, looks set to end after Enrico Letta, the deputy leader of the centre-left, was asked to become premier and form a new government by head of state President Giorgio Napolitano.

After accepting the job, 46-year-old Mr Letta, a moderate with ministerial experience, must now select a cabinet of technocrats and parliamentarians from across the political spectrum to ensure vital support from both centre-left and centre-right blocks, as he works on key reforms on the voting system and political funding.

A confidence vote needed to endorse the new administration may come as quickly as the weekend. Among those figures tipped for cabinet posts is the outgoing caretaker-premier Mario Monti who many pundits have called to be made foreign minister to cement European relations and calm the markets.

The unprecedented re-election last weekend of 87-year-old President Napolitano for a second term as head of state, following parliament’s inability to elect his successor, together with his decisive action to install a Letta-led “government of national unity”, appears to have pleased speculators – at least in the short-term – with borrowing costs in the pivotal eurozone country on the way down.

But few in Italy are under any illusion, however, over the difficulty Mr Letta faces in leading such a seemingly incompatible group of parliamentarians – from his centre-left Democrat Party and Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative PDL (People of Freedom) party, who have little in common apart from their contempt for each other.

“I am appealing to all political forces and their sense of responsibility,” Mr Letta told reporters at the presidential palace. “All of the essential reforms must be done together with the largest possible participation.”

There is much agreement that Italy’s system of PR needs to be overhauled to provide more incisive government, and that action is needed to deliver the country from a seemingly endless recession.

Mr Berlusconi, who has cheered up noticeably now the twin-threat of a hostile presidency and a left-wing administration minded to boot him out of parliament has receded, probably fancies himself as one of the powers behind the throne of a Letta-administration. Premier-elect Letta’s uncle Gianni Letta is one of Mr Berlusconi’s closest political associates – seen as the éminence grise who effectively ran Italy, while Berlusconi was partying with hookers.

Enrico Letta has strongly criticised Mr Berlusconi in the past — and recently called for an overhaul of Italy’s flawed, unwieldy justice system and new laws on corruption. But it’s unlikely the new premier’s thoughts on justice reform coincide with those of Mr Berlusconi, who faces criminal charges in three trials. Neither is it very likely that the tycoon’s parliamentary troops will vote for them.

Many observers are already likening the emerging left-right coalition to a parliamentary version of Frankenstein’s monster. “Italy is still in a dreadful situation. There’s never been anything like this,” said James Walston, a politics professor at the American University in Rome.

The anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) of Beppe Grillo, which won a quarter of the vote in the general election, but refused to work with the centre-left, has now been effectively side-lined. Mr Grillo said his party would be the parliamentary opposition.

It seems likely, however, that the M5S is seeking to play a longer game. If the forthcoming left-right coalition proves as inept as Mr Grillo has predicted, then the M5S will no doubt be expecting to capitalise on this failure at the next poll, which surely can’t be more than a year away.

Profile: Enrico Letta

For someone hailed as the “first face from Generation X to govern Italy”. Enrico Letta, 46, has a surprising amount of political experience – having served in four governments, with stints as minister for Europe and for trade and industry starting in centre-left cabinets from the late 1990s.

His relative youth means that he is not tainted by past scandals, particularly those of the early 1990s. His moderate, Europhile, centre-left politics (he describes himself as “post-ideological“) should not prove too unpalatable to conservatives in the national unity coalition that he must now construct. His heroes are Polish anti-communist leader Lech Walesa and South African anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela. He has been married twice and has three children.

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
News
i100
Life and Style
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Year 2 Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Bognor Regis!

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: Year 2 Teacher currently need...

Data Analyst / Marketing Database Analyst

£24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits