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The new Italian government headed by Enrico Letta

Added on April 30, 2013 at 16:35 Italian time
As expected, after the vote in the House of Representatives yesterday, the new Italian government headed by Enrico Letta has also won the vote of confidence in the Senate today.

Today in the Senate, with an absolute majority of 156 votes, the cabinet Letta won 233 out of possible 311 votes, with 59 senators voting no and 18 abstentions. Yesterday in the Lower House, with 623 parliamentarians being present, 606 voting and an absolute majority of 304 votes, the government had received 453 yes, 152 no and 17 abstentions.

Beppe Grillo's Five-Star Movement as well as the left-wing SEL of Nichi Vendola voted against the new government. The Lega Nord of Roberto Maroni abstained from voting.


Article added on April 27, 2013 at 22:56 Italian time
A competent, grand coalition as a result of a political mess
  
Today, April 27, Prime Minister Enrico Letta has presented his new Italian government, which should be sworn in on tomorrow. It is a competent, grand coalition, which is surprising given the political mess the country is in since Bersani only managed to win the Chamber of Deputies and the populist Beppe Grillo united one quarter of all Italian voters in February 2013.

The low point came with the reelection of President Napolitano (*1925). Because of his almost biblical age, he was decided to step down and had rightly said that keeping him in office would be ridiculous. Unfortunately, the political parties were unable to chose a new president. The only solution in the end was to keep the head of state in place. Napolitano did it under the condition that a grand coalition would be formed immediately.

Silvio Berlusconi was wise enough not to insist on a cabinet post. Prime Minister
Mario Monti, who made some reforms with his cabinet of technocrats, did the same. The result is a new Italian government full of competent, relatively young people, including many female ministers.

Gianni Letta, who had served as Romano Prodi's secretary of state in the prime minister's office, is the nephew of Gianni Letta, who in turn had had the same job under Prime Minister
Berlusconi. Both are said to be discrete and competent men, who work hard behind the scenes. Now it was time for Enrico Letta to move to center-stage. He is heading a grand-coalition formed by his center-left Democratic Party, the center-right Party of Freedom of Silvio Berlusconi, former Prime Minister Mario Monti's Civic Choice party as well as independent technocrats.

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The new Italian government of Prime Minister Enrico Letta

In a very short lapse of time, the new Prime Minister Enrico Letta has managed to form a convincing cabinet. Vice-Premier and Minister of the Interior will be Berlusconi's close confident Angelino Alfanfo (*1970) of the People of Freedom Party. The new Minister of the Economy will be the director general of Italy's National Bank,
Fabrizio Saccomanni (*1942). The new Minister of Foreign Affairs will be the former EU-Commissioner and current Vice-President of the Italian Senate, Emma Bonino (*1948) of the small Radical Party. Appointed as new Minister of Defense was Mario Mauro (*1961) of Mario Monti's Scelta Civica. [updated on April 29, 2013: The independent Anna Maria Cancellieri (*1943) will stay in the cabinet. She was appointed in November 2011 by Prime Minister Monti as Minister of the Interior. Under Prime Minister Letta, she will work as Minister of Justice].  The independent Enzo Moavero Milanesi (*1954) will take care of the Ministry of European Affairs; he has once worked as head of cabinet for the former EU-Commissioner Mario Monti. Regional minister will become the current President of ANCI (Associazione Nazionale Comuni Italiani), Graziano Delrio (*1960), a member of the Democratic Party. The Vice-President of the House of Representatives, Maurizio Lupi (*1959), a member of Berlusconi's Party of Freedom, will take care of the Ministry of Infrastructure. The independent economist, professor of statistics and President of the Italian statistics office Istat, Enrico Giovannini (*1957), will take over the Ministry of Labor. The Professor of Economic Sociology at the University of Florence, Carlo Trigilia (*1951), will head the Ministry of Coesione territoriale. Dario Franceschini (*1958), the leader of the parliamentary group of the Democratic Party in Italy's Lower House, will take care of the government's relation with parliament. The lawyer Gianpiero D'Alia (*1966), a senator of the UdC and Monti's Scelta Civica, will take care of the Administration and its reform. Josefa Idem (*1964) of the Democratic Party, a former Kayak World and Olympic Champion for Germany, is the new Minister for Equal Opportunities and Sports in the grand coalition. Flavio Zanonato (*1950), a former Communist and currently a member of the Democratic Party and current Mayor of Padua, will take over the Ministry for Economic Development. Nunzia De Girolamo (*1975) of Berlusconi's People of Freedom party will head the Ministry of Agriculture. The Physics Professor and member of the Democratic Party, Maria Chiara Carrozza (*1965) from Pisa, will head the Ministry of Education responsible for the universites as well a research. Beatrice Lorenzin (*1971) of Berlusconi's People of Freedom, will be the new Health Minister. Gaetano Quagliariello (*1960) of Berlusconi's People of Freedom is the new man responsible for Constitutional Affairs. Andrea Orlando (*1969) of the Democratic Party will take care of the Environment. Cécile Kyenge (*1964) was born in Congo. She is a member of the Democratic party and will be the new Minister for Integration. She is the first African Italian minister in Italy's history.  Massimo Bray (*1959) of the Democratic Party was the director of the Enciclopedia Italiana. He will be the new Minister of Culture and Tourism.

Mario Monti himself is not part of the new government, but there is a lot of Monti in the new cabinet. Prime Minister Enrico Letta has appointed many young and female ministers as well as many independent and competent people. Could this be the new beginning for Italian politics?

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Biography of Prime Minister Enrico Letto

Prime Minister Enrico Letta was born in Pisa 1966 as the son of a professor of probability calculus at the University of Pisa. Enrico grew up in Strasburg and returned to Italy only for his University years, which he spent at the University of Pisa, where he graduated in political science. He later earned a Ph.D. in European Law.

In the 1990s, Enrico Letta joined the youth movement of the Christian Democrats as a member of its board. From 1991 to 1995, the headed the Youth of the European People's Party.

Enrico Letta joined the Italian People's Party in 1994 and became its deputy secretary in 1997. He became the youngest member of parliament. At 32, he became Italy's youngest post-war minister as Minister of European Affairs in the center-left government of Massimo D'Alema. He became the youngest bureau chief of a prime minister under Romano Prodi. His uncle, Gianni Letta, had the same job, secretary of state in the prime minister's office, under Silvio Berlusconi. On April 28, 2013 Enrico Letta will become the second youngest prime minister in Italy's history. [Added on April 28, 2013: The government will be sworn in today. The votes of confidence in the two chambers of parliament will take place on April 29 and 30].

In the reform government of Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, which prepared Italy's admission into the Eurozone, Enrico Letta was responsible for a Euro commission within the ministry of Finance. As mentioned above, subsequently he became European Minister under Massimo D'Alema and later header the Ministry of Industry.

Enrico Letta is a quiet worker in the background. In 2007, he was one of the founders of the Democratic Party. The young politician finished a remarkable third in its leadership election with 11%, behind Rosy Bindi with 14.1% and far behind Walter Veltroni with 74.6%.

Much like Prime Minister Romano Prodi, Enrico Letta early on had the support of the late minister, lawyer and professor of economics Beniamino Andreatta, who allowed him to quickly climb the political ladder. Subsequently, he became a loyal collaborator of Prime Minister Prodi before working loyally with the Democratic Party chiefs Dario Franceschini and Pier Luigi Bersani.

Enrico Letta is married to the journalist Gianna Fregonara of the center-right Corriere della Sera newspaper. The couple has three sons.

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Towards a bright future in Italy or just an interlude?

One of the great dangers of the new Italian grand coalition government headed by
Enrico Letta is that the base of the Democratic Party (PD) and the voters of the center-left will not forgive their leaders to have joined forces with Silvio Berlusconi and his People of Freedom. The Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani as well as the party as a whole have acted in such an incompetent way during the electoral campaign as well as from election day until now that Silvio Berlusconi almost looks like a rehabilitated and serious man to many Italians.

There is much talk in Italy about Silvio Berlusconi's hopes that, thanks to his party's part in the grand coalition, he will avoid any prison sentence. It is said that he hopes to become a Senator for Life, which would grant him almost immunity. Rumors or not, Berlusconi was clearly worried about the election outcome in February. That is why he put all his energy into the campaign and did what he can do best: deliver fantastic propaganda. In his favor worked that he had some good arguments on his side. Many Italians voted for him in the hope for lower taxes. They did not seem to care about the fact that he had never delivered before.

In early elections, Berlusconi and his People of Freedom could even win further ground. The left-wing Nichi Vendola with his Sinistra Ecologia Libertà party as well as the populist Beppe Grillo with his Five-Star-Movement could be the other great winners of early elections since they both decided to boycott the current coalition government. Already in February 2013, Grillo's party managed to win one quarter of the Italian voters. Even considering that there are some reasonable Italians among the so-called Grillini, this is quite worrying.

The positive scenario is of course based on a successful Letta government. If structural reforms can finally be put through, if the problems of tax evasion, the shadow economy and organized crime be tackled successfully, if the public debt as well as the tax burden can slowly be reduced, the Democratic Party, Monti's Scelta Civica and other reasonable politicians could profit from it. The road is long and difficult. However, such a competent government has only been seen in Italy in Monti's cabinet.

Italy's long term debt problems won't go away over night. Public debt is over 120% of GDP. Overall unemployment has reached over 10%. Youth unemployment stands at over a staggering 35%. Italy needs reforms now. It is too-big-to-fail and too-big-to-be saved. Therefore, Italy has to help itself. They can do it. Will they?









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