Former European Union Competition Commissioner Mario Monti will head Italy’s interim government through a difficult round of austerity measures vital to containing the euro zone’s sovereign debt crisis and cutting Italy’s massive public debt.
President Giorgio Napolitano offered Monti the position last night in Rome, less than 24 hours after Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi resigned in order to make way for a coalition government that will set aside politics in order to push through important budget cuts to restore confidence in the government’s ability to reduce the euro zone’s second-biggest debt load.
“In a particularly difficult moment for Italy, in a very turbulent European and international landscape, the country must prevail in the challenge of redemption,” Monti told the press last night after a meeting with Napolitano in Rome. “Italy must once again be an element of strength, not of weakness, in the European Union, which we helped found and in which we must be protagonists.”
Monti, an economist and adviser to Goldman Sachs, will try to assure investors that Italy can cut its 1.9 trillion euros of debt, which totals roughly 120% of GDP, and spur economic growth that has lagged behind the euro-zone average for more than a decade. He will lead a so-called technical government, a type of government that sidesteps the democratic process in times of political crisis in order to push through necessary reforms.
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Monti will present the names of his Cabinet ministers to Napolitano before he is sworn in, after which he will face confidence votes in both houses of parliament. Leaders of Berlusconi’s People of Liberty party have already told Napolitano they will support a Monti government in a vote that may come as soon as this week.