Italy: Monti races to put unity government together

Continuing nervousness in markets adds urgency to challenge faced by the country's new premier


Italy's new Prime Minister-designate, Mario Monti, has begun a week of frenetic meetings with politicians, business leaders and unions, in the race to have a new national unity government sworn in by Friday.

There was continued nervousness yesterday in the money markets, as Italy sold €3bn (£2.6bn) of five-year bonds paying a yield of 6.29 per cent – the highest since 1997 – in order to service debt payments.

Friday's gains in share prices on news that austerity measures would pass through parliament were also wiped out at the prospect of several days of "delicate and crucial" negotiations, in the words of President Giorgio Napolitano, between Mr Monti and Italy's fractious political groupings.

The interest rate on Italian 10-year debt fell yesterday morning as investors took comfort from the installation of Mr Monti, but by the end of the day yields had risen back up to 6.7 per cent, a level that is still likely to make it impossible for Rome to meet all its borrowing costs. Despite this, senior political figures predicted Mr Monti will win the backing of enough parties to launch a national unity government by the end of the week to face Italy's debt crisis. Gianfranco Fini, speaker of the lower house of parliament, said: "I believe the Monti government will be created and by the end of Friday will have received [votes of confidence] in both houses of parliament." Along with the outright opposition of the Northern League to a technocratic administration, many members of Mr Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) party are suspicious of a government run by a pro-European liberal economist.

The PDL says it will back Mr Monti for now, but has indicated it would like to see fresh elections before the end of the current parliament in 2013.

Mr Fini – seen as a centre-right leader-in-waiting, albeit without much parliamentary support – said that if a Monti government proved competent and was able to extricate Italy from the financial crisis, it could continue through to 2013.

Mr Monti himself made clear that he intends to serve until spring 2013 elections, calling it counterproductive to say when he'd step down. "If a date before [2013] is set, this haste would take away credibility from the government's actions," he said at his brief news conference. "I won't accept" such a condition, he added. Mr Monti, an economist trained in Italy and Yale in the US, was nominated by Mr Berlusconi as internal markets commissioner in 1994, before taking over the competition portfolio in 1999, which he held for five years.

He made his name in the competition job, taking on the US corporate giants General Electric and Microsoft, blocking GE's planned merger with rival Honeywell and imposing a record €497m fine on Microsoft for anti-competitive practices.


Italian politics: A bluffer's guide (click here to launch the graphic)

The task facing Mario Monti is made harder by the complex nature of Italian politics. The head of state is the President, currently Giorgio Napolitano, who has powers to veto new laws, disband parliament and call elections.

His other chief role is to nominate the President of the Council of Ministers, or Prime Minister, as he did with Mr Monti, the prime minister designate.

The lower house of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, has 630 members. A parliament can last five years, but as we've seen before – most recently in the past week – rarely goes the distance.

The latest version of Italy's complex electoral system, introduced just six years ago, combines proportional representation with extra representation for the coalition that secures the most votes.

Parliament's upper house, the Senate, has 315 members elected under a system of purely proportional representation. Additionally, the Senate includes former presidents and up to five life-senators – of whom Mario Monti is the latest. Power nominally rests with the Chamber of Deputies, but most bills in Italy do need to pass through both houses.


A brief history

1945 Former dictator Benito Mussolini is executed by partisans a month after Germany surrenders.

1946 Italy votes to become a republic.

1948 New constitution passed. Centre-right Christian Democrats enter government and stay, under numerous different leaders and coalitions, until 1980.

1972 Giulio Andreotti is named Prime Minister. He will come and go as leader seven times over 20 years.

1983 Socialist Bettino Craxi is sworn in as Prime Minister.

1994 Parliament is dissolved after corruption scandals. Silvio Berlusconi wins landslide victory, but falls when the Northern League withdraws from the coalition. He will return to power in 2001, 2005 and 2008.

2002 Italy joins the euro.

2011 Berlusconi steps down after his government loses a crucial budget vote. He is replaced by former EU commissioner Mario Monti.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins win the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Call Handler

£14500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a Sales Ca...

Recruitment Genius: Support Worker

£14560 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers unique pers...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor