Italy

Enrico Letta Asked to Form Italy's Next Government

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Credit: Author Enrico Letta/wikimedia

After months of political deadlock it looks like Italy may soon have a government. Today, Enrico Letta was asked by President Giorgio Napolitano to form a coalition government. Letta, the deputy leader of the left-leaning Democratic Party, now faces the unenviable task of putting together the government of a country that faces enormous economic challenges.

Letta will replace Mario Monti, who put together a technocratic government that included no elected officials after he was appointed prime minister in November 2011. 

Whatever government Letta puts together must include representatives from the Democratic Party and the right-leaning People of Freedom Party and pass a vote of confidence in parliament. Given the political awkwardness that putting the coalition government together will involve it is hard to see how much the new Italian government will be able to achieve.

Many governments across Europe have been implementing so-called austerity, much of it being imposed by Germany, which is providing a lot of money for bailouts across Europe. Thankfully, German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently put the issue of austerity in perspective, saying that what everyone else is calling "austerity" is "balancing the budget."

Since the euro crisis began there has been an ongoing debate on whether European government should be stimulating their economies or cut spending. Letta will have to now see which versions of these two options his new government will be able to implement. 

During Monti's time as prime minister Italy did implement austerity measures, and how the new Italian government decides to deal with the ongoing euro crisis will be watched very carefully by investors and other governments. That the two major parties that will have to be part of the coalition government will have disagreements on how best to address Italy's economic future means that any agreed upon economic policy will probably not be what Italians require in the midst of the euro crisis. 

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  1. This bullshit about reductions in government spending being “austerity” is one of the dumbest ideas in a long, long time. Kudos to Merkel–here’s her quote on that point: “I call it balancing the budget,” the German chancellor told her audience at a book presentation. “Everyone else is using this term austerity. That makes it sound like something truly evil.”

    As we all know, the Germans know evil, so if she says that, it must be true.

    For American leftists to jump on the “austerity” bandwagon, which has so clearly derailed many European attempts to reform their ridiculous spending habits, is stupid.

    1. What is wrong with the word “austerity” anyway?

      1. To me, austerity is something people suffer, not governments.

      2. “Austere” implies hardship and/or self-denial and is only about a half-step above “ascetic” in terms of comfort. It’s an inaccurate term since the governments employing it are only slightly trimming their spending after it had ballooned unfathomably in the prior 20 years.

        1. A truly austere government would be one that had officials sitting on the side of the road, begging for money. As their sole source of revenue.

  2. After months of political deadlock it looks like Italy may soon have a government.

    Remember, when Europeans use the word “government”, they don’t mean “government” they mean “a political coalition directing the government”. Do not imagine for a second that Italy had a stateless society for months. It very much had a state, and it was busy regulating, taxing, and coercing.

    1. When I was a kid and would hear that Italy had had two hundred or whatever governments since World War II, I pictured a lot of coup d’?tats.

    2. The “Government” is another way of referring to the “Ministry” or in a US context the “Administration.”

  3. Does Italy every really have a government, and how can you tell?

  4. That the two major parties that will have to be part of the coalition government will have disagreements on how best to address Italy’s economic future means that any agreed upon economic policy will probably not be what Italians require in the midst of the euro crisis.

    Whoa. That is one long sentence.

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