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Italy's Monti Sets Agenda for New Government


Carabinieri's paramilitary police clash with demonstrators during a protest in Milan November 17, 2011

Carabinieri's paramilitary police clash with demonstrators during a protest in Milan November 17, 2011

Italy’s new prime minister, Mario Monti, said on Thursday the country faces a major emergency, and promised rigor and fairness in sweeping reforms to dig Italy out of a major financial crisis.

Prime Minister Mario Monti, sworn in at the presidential palace in Rome Wednesday, presented his legislative agenda and plans to stimulate economic growth to the upper house of parliament.

He told the country that the end of the euro would cause the disintegration of the united market, its rules and institutions. Outlining the priorities for his government, Mr. Monti said he would concentrate on reigning in Italy’s spending and spurring growth.

He said he would focus on lowering Italy’s massive public debt, which stands today at 120 percent of GDP. He indicated Italians would be paying new taxes. But he also said he would fight tax evasion and black market labor.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti reads his speech during a vote of confidence at the Senate in Rome, November 17, 2011

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti reads his speech during a vote of confidence at the Senate in Rome, November 17, 2011

The new prime minister said the government must focus on women and young people so that they can enter the workforce.

But not all Italians are convinced the plan will work.

Students and workers took to the streets in various Italian cities Thursday to protest the austerity measures.

Police scuffled with students in Milan and in Turin. In Palermo, demonstrators hurled eggs and smoke bombs at a bank, and protesters threw rocks at police. And in Rome, hundreds of students marched to the Senate, where the new prime minister gave his first speech.

One student said that the government plans to make them pay for a debt they did not create. He said the government will implement the same measures that the previous Berlusconi government was planning but in a harsher way and will increase cuts even more.

Mr. Monti will serve as economy minister as well as prime minister for the time being. Analysts say restoring market confidence is crucial because it is the third largest economy in the eurozone. They say that a debt default by Italy could break up the eurozone as it is too big for Europe to rescue.

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