News / Europe

Italy's Letta Meets Berlusconi to Try to Form Government

Deputy leader of Italy's center-left Democratic Party (PD) Enrico Letta talks during a news conference at Montecitorio palace in Rome, April 25, 2013.
Deputy leader of Italy's center-left Democratic Party (PD) Enrico Letta talks during a news conference at Montecitorio palace in Rome, April 25, 2013.
Reuters
Italy's center-left prime minister-designate Enrico Letta met Silvio Berlusconi and other center-right officials on Saturday to try to resolve the remaining differences holding up the formation of a coalition government between the rival parties.
    
Letta, given a mandate to form a government by President Giorgio Napolitano, is under pressure to reach an agreement with the center-right to end the political stalemate that has paralyzed Italy since inconclusive elections in February.
    
Agreement has been held up by wrangling over ministerial posts and policy differences, notably over Berlusconi's demand to scrap the unpopular IMU housing tax, a move that would blow an 8 billion euro hole in this year's budget plans.
    
Letta, a 46-year-old moderate on the right of his Democratic Party and the nephew of one of Berlusconi's closest aides, said on Friday that he was determined to reach an accord.
    
If the two sides can come to an agreement on Saturday, he could go before parliament for a confidence vote as early as Monday.
    
Italy, the euro zone's third-largest economy, has been without an effective government for months, with the long post-election deadlock holding up any concerted effort to end a recession set to become the longest since World War Two.
    
Letta received some encouragement late on Friday when the  ratings agency Moody's kept its rating on Italian government debt unchanged at Baa2 because low interest rates were making it possible to buy time to implement much-needed reforms.
    
Bond yields have fallen to their lowest in more than two years as investors hope for enough stability to help Italy revive its economy and gradually tackle its large public debt.
    
However Moody's also said medium-term growth prospects were weak and forecast the economy would shrink by 1.8 percent this year, compounding more than two decades of stagnation.
    
Letta has said his priorities will be boosting the economy and tackling unemployment, restoring confidence in Italy's discredited political institutions and trying to turn Europe away from austerity to focus more on growth and investment.
    
Priorities
   
On paper, the priorities laid out by Letta fit in well with proposals from Berlusconi's camp, which has been attacking the austerity policies pursued for months by the outgoing prime minister, Mario Monti.
    
But the selection of ministers will show more clearly how a Letta government will work in practice.
    
Berlusconi, in the middle of legal battles over a tax fraud conviction and charges of paying for sex with a minor, has pressed for the cabinet to include has close political allies, and has rejected technocrats such as those who served in Monti's government.
    
He has backed Renato Brunetta, the lower house leader of his People of Freedom (PDL) party, for the key Economy Ministry and also wants to place party secretary Angelino Alfano in the government, possibly as deputy prime minister.
    
However there is strong resistance in parts of the Democratic Party to an accord with Berlusconi, its sworn enemy for almost 20 years.
    
Former party leader Pier Luigi Bersani, who resigned this month after a party rebellion, told Letta on Saturday that he should not accept a deal with the PDL on any terms, according to a person with knowledge of their conversation.
    
Without an agreement, there would be no alternative to new elections, a disastrous prospect for the center-left, which threw away a 10-point lead before the last poll and now trails Berlusconi by more than five points, according to a poll by the SWG institute on Friday.
    
The other main force in parliament, Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, has ruled out taking part in a government made up of the two main parties. He called the right-left coalition "an orgy worthy of the best of bunga bunga", a reference to Berlusconi's much publicized parties at his private villas.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Paradei
X
Anush Avetisyan
November 26, 2014 10:57 PM
Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid