New Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta to seek backing of parliament, as vote of confidence in the coalition takes place in the shadow of Rome gun attacks

Vote comes the day after an unemployed man shot two police officers and a passer-by outside the Prime Minister's office

Italy’s new Prime Minister Enrico Letta will seek the backing of parliament today, as the country’s coalition government looks towards addressing its severe political and economic problems.

Letta will speak in parliament ahead of the 3pm confidence vote in which he can expect the backing of his own centre-left Democratic Party and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom party.

The Democratic Party and People of Freedom party were forced into a coalition after the centre-left fell short of the numbers in parliament to govern alone in elections in February.

The vote of confidence takes place under the shadow of a gun attack in Rome yesterday in which an unemployed man shot two police officers and a passer-by outside the Prime Minister's office.

Letta himself was being sworn-in at the nearby presidential palace at the time of the attack.

Officials said the shooting was an isolated incident but it came amid tensions that have built up in the euro zone's third largest economy after almost two years of acute economic and social crisis.

Lower house speaker Laura Boldrini said: “This is another sign of despair… Politicians have to come back to providing concrete answers to people's needs.”

There is some doubt over whether Italy’s new coalition government will last its full five-year term.

Letta has pledged to try to restore confidence in the country's battered political institutions and has promised to address the poverty worsened by a jobless level running at more than 40 per cent among young people in some areas of the country.

He also hopes to push the European Union away from its fixation with budget austerity.

Despite speculation over how long the centre-left and centre-right coalition will last, Letta is expected to try to pass at least a few basic reforms quickly including a change to Italy's much criticised electoral laws and a cut in the size of parliament.

Letta’s cabinet, which includes a record seven women and Italy's first black minister, was shaped in part as a response to disillusion with political elites shown in the success of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement led by comic Beppe Grillo.

Letta will need all his diplomatic skill to keep the government on track and tensions in his forced coalition with the centre-right under control given the deep suspicion that exists between the rival blocs.

Silvio Berlusconi, caught up in a legal battle over a tax fraud conviction and charges of paying for sex with a minor, is not in the cabinet but he will have a powerful behind-the-scenes influence and could bring the government down if he chose.

Buoyant financial markets responded positively last week to signs of an end to the long stalemate that followed February's inconclusive national elections but many have sounded a note of caution as well.

“There is a very positive sensation because we come from a period of strong uncertainty and finally there is a very defined framework,” said Lorenzo Stanca, managing partner of Mandarin Capital, a private equity fund that invests in small Italian and Chinese firms.

“The real tests will come in the next few weeks and months,” he said. “There is not much experience in Italy of a coalition government and it will be difficult.”

Many in Letta's Democratic Party are finding the idea of a coalition with Berlusconi, their foe of two decades, abhorrent and the centre-right, boosted by a solid lead in the opinion polls, has made little effort to strike a conciliatory note.

Even before Letta's government was sworn in, the party was demanding the abolition of the IMU housing tax and the repayment of last year's levy, an election pledge by Berlusconi that will blow an 8 billion euro hole in this year's budget plans.

Italian business will be hoping for a reduction in the crushing burden of tax and red tape but badly strained public finances - notably a public debt likely to top 130 per cent of gross domestic product - leave Letta little room for manoeuvre.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Business Development Manager (District Heating)

£55000 Per Annum plus company car and bonus scheme: The Green Recruitment Comp...

Lead Hand - QC

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Lead Hand - QCProgressive are recruiting...

Chemical Engineer/Project Coordinator

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Chemical Eng...

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn