The future of the euro in the hands of Italy's new leader
Mario Monti takes office as Berlusconi plots a bizarre political comeback
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.
- 1 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
General Election 2015: David Cameron catching up in polls – but he badly needs a clear lead
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on
South Africa xenophobic attacks: Shops looted and violence on streets of Johannesburg as foreigners are forced to hide in police stations
Earthworms rain down from skies over Norway, puzzling scientists
18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a white stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
Russian warships in English Channel 'to conduct anti-aircraft and anti-submarine military drills'
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...
£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...