Mario Monti announces new cabinet


Mario Monti formed a new technocrat government in Italy today to tackle a major debt crisis threatening the entire eurozone and said he hoped it would placate financial markets.

Officials said the new 16-member government, including three women and announced by Monti at the presidential palace in Rome, would be sworn in at 5pm.

The government has the urgent task of tackling a crisis that has pushed Italy's borrowing costs to untenable levels and brought it to the brink of economic disaster.

Speaking after presenting his cabinet, Monti said: "We feel sure of what we have done and we have received many signals of encouragement from our European partners and the international world.

"All this will, I trust, translate into a calming of that part of the market difficulty which concerns our country."

Monti, a respected economics professor and former European Commissioner, said he would take the crucial economy portfolio himself.

Corrado Passera, the CEO of Italy's biggest retail bank Intesa Sanpaolo, was given the infrastructure and industry portfolio.

But after disputes among the parties which complicated Monti's task, the new government contained no politicians, as he was reported to have wanted. Some analysts say this could make it more vulnerable to ambushes in parliament as it pushes through unpopular measures.

Monti said the lack of politicians would strengthen rather than weaken the government by enabling it to avoid political disputes and press ahead with vital reforms.

"The absence of political personalities in the government will help rather than hinder a solid base of support for the government in parliament and in the political parties because it will remove one ground for disagreement."

He said he would present his austerity programme to the Senate on Thursday. This is expected to be followed by a confidence vote in both houses of parliament.

The reforms were demanded by European leaders to stem a crisis at the centre of the eurozone's problems.