The future of the euro in the hands of Italy's new leader

Mario Monti takes office as Berlusconi plots a bizarre political comeback

Milan

Mario Monti was appointed the new Prime Minister of Italy last night, succeeding Silvio Berlusconi and beginning the unenviable task of hauling Italy – and the euro – back from the brink.

Confirmation of the unelected Mr Monti's appointment came hours before financial markets opened this morning, when Italy will attempt to sell another €3bn (£2.57bn) of bonds. In his first address as Italy's premier, he said that the embattled country needed to work together to give its children a "concrete future".

Mr Berlusconi resigned on Saturday evening after Italy's lower house of parliament voted through a package of deep spending cuts and tough economic reforms. After his resignation, he slipped out of the presidential palace through a side door in order to avoid hundreds of hecklers.

His departure paved the way for President Giorgio Napolitano to install a technocratic government led by Mr Monti, a 68-year-old former EU Competition Commissioner, which must not only implement cuts and labour reforms but must consider extending them to curb market pressure on Italy's $1.9trn (£1.18trn) of debts.

Initial resistance to an unelected technocrat running the country had subsided yesterday afternoon, with more MPs in Mr Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) party coming round to the idea of a stop-gap Monti premiership.

As talks continued in Rome between the head of state and main political parties, the negotiations appeared to centre on how many cabinet posts Mr Monti would give to established political figures rather than academics or financiers. The PDL was pressing for the inclusion of Gianni Letta, Mr Berlusconi's political fixer. But this appeared less likely after centre-left parties objected.

Mr Monti, who gained a reputation for toughness at the EU, was asked yesterday whether he was excited at the prospect of being Italy's next premier. He responded obliquely: "Have you noticed what a beautiful day it is?"

Opposition MPs said the end of Mr Berlusconi's controversial 17-year political career marked a "new dawn".

The Adnkronos news agency reported that Mr Berlusconi had offered Mr Monti the support of all his PDL MPs, in exchange for guarantees on justice legislation – the clear implication being that Mr Berlusconi was hoping for pledges on criminal law that might help him escape convictions in his ongoing trials. Mr Monti refused the offer, the report said. Mr Berlusconi is due in court on 21 November in a bribery case.

Incredibly, there was even a suggestion the 75-year-old Mr Berlusconi may try and resurrect his political career. In a message to a meeting of a minor right-wing party, the former Prime Minister said: "I share your spirit and I hope to resume with you the path of government."

The new leader was appointed despite the opposition of the PDL's former coalition ally, the right-wing Northern League. Umberto Bossi, a long-time ally of Mr Berlusconi, said his party won't yet back any Monti-led government. "For now, we said 'No.' Then we'll see the programme and decide in due course," he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory