Italian leader Mario Monti wins second confidence vote 

 

Italian Premier Mario Monti insisted he intended to govern until
elections in 2013, urging lawmakers not to "pull the plug" before then
no matter how politically painful the measures in his plan to save the
country from its debt crisis.

Monti spoke just before his new government won its second parliamentary confidence vote with a tally of 556-61 in the lower Chamber of Deputies. On Thursday, Monti's government won in the Senate, confirming his government's mandate.

Monti said he hoped to soon present a package of reforms to parliament and said he would travel to Brussels next week to map out his strategy to reduce debt and spur growth to the European Commission.

He also has a meeting planned Thursday in Strasburg with the French and German leaders, the first of what he said is a new, permanent grouping of the eurozone's three largest economies.

"The job that I have had the honor of receiving is nearly impossible, but we will succeed," Monti told lawmakers.

Monti is under enormous pressure to boost growth and bring down Italy's high debt, which at 120 percent of GDP is among the highest in the eurozone. The aim is not only to save Italy from succumbing to the debt crisis but to prevent a catastrophic disintegration of the common euro currency.

Monti's strategy focuses on budgetary rigor, economic growth and social fairness. He pledged to reform the pension system, re-impose a tax on homes annulled by Berlusconi's government, fight tax evasion, streamline civil court proceedings, get more women and youth into the work force and cut political costs.

He said he hoped to present the measures as a package, but gave no details or timetable Friday.

His remarks Friday were more aimed at answering lingering doubts among those who voted against his government, have conditioned their approval on how long it lasts, or took to the streets Thursday to protest his cabinet of bankers, university professors and CEOs.

"We won't be around for long," Monti said. "We won't last a minute longer than the time this parliament gives us their confidence."

But he stressed that he never would have gathered together such a high-caliber government if the intent wasn't to govern until the natural end of the legislative term, in spring 2013. He has said anything less than that would undermine the government's credibility.

While acknowledging the absolute dependence of his government on parliament, he jokingly asked to avoid using terms like "pull the plug" because it implied the government was some kind of an "artificial lung" when in fact it is leading the country through a profound crisis.

"We're not asking for blind trust, but vigilant trust," Monti said.

But he also issued a warning of sorts, noting the sense of desperation among ordinary Italians about Italy's economic mess: "In giving us confidence or taking it away, you must also realize the consequences for yourselves among Italians."

It was a clear message to Berlusconi's People of Freedom party, which has said it would only support Monti's government for as long as needed to pass the measures demanded by the EU.

Party secretary Angelino Alfano told state television Thursday that the party hadn't given Monti a deadline. "But what is certain is that we are making the link between the government and its program, and once the program is finished we're heading to the polls."

Europe has already bailed out three small countries — Greece, Ireland and Portugal — but the Italian economy, the third-largest in the 17-nation eurozone, is too big for Europe to rescue. Borrowing costs on 10-year Italian bonds were at 6.75 percent Friday, after spiking briefly over 7 percent Thursday, a level that forced those other countries into bailouts.

In a conference call Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Monti agreed that their countries have a special responsibility to the eurozone as its three largest economies and founding members of the European Union.

Monti said his meeting with Sarkozy and Merkel would mark the start of "a permanent Italian contribution to the solution of the debt problem."

Still, it's not clear how many sacrifices Italians are willing or able to make. Students demonstrated across the country on Thursday under the banner: "Save the schools, not the banks."

Monti's ambitious plans overhaul just about every aspect of the Italian economy — from the organization of local governments to the selection process for teachers. Monti indicated he would seek to lower taxes on labor, while raising those on consumption. And he pledged measures — such as setting a limit on cash transactions — to tackle tax evasion, which he estimated is worth 20 percent of GDP.

AP

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
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

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

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
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam