Italy finally has a new coalition government

Broader, younger Cabinet selected

ROME — Ending a crushing two-month political stalemate that had spooked European leaders, Prime Minister-designate Enrico Letta formed a rare coalition government Saturday.

He brought together left and right — and including a record number of women and Italy’s first nonwhite Cabinet minister — to steer Italy, with the eurozone’s third-largest economy, out of the doldrums.

For finance minister, Letta chose a veteran with a strong international profile: Fabrizio Saccomanni, who as director general of the Bank of Italy worked closely under Mario Draghi, now the president of the European Central Bank.


For foreign minister, he named Emma Bonino, a former member of the European Parliament and a Radical Party member known for her independent streak.

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But for the most part, Letta, 46, largely named new and younger Cabinet members, acknowledging growing popular momentum for generational change after a quarter of Italians voted for the antiestablishment Five Star Movement in inconclusive elections in February.

In that vote, Letta’s center-left Democratic Party placed first, but without a majority to govern, and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right People of Liberty party placed second.

Angelino Alfano, the secretary of People of Liberty, will be deputy prime minister and interior minister, a sign of the power that Berlusconi still wields. The coalition could not be formed until Berlusconi returned to Rome after attending the inauguration of George W. Bush’s Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, where Berlusconi, 76, was photographed dozing during the ceremony.

Known as a bridge builder, Letta, the nephew of Berlusconi’s closest aide, will lead the first political grand coalition in Italy in decades.


The Cabinet is expected to be sworn in Sunday and will face confidence votes in both houses of Parliament this week. It replaces the 15-month government of Mario Monti, which had the support of both the right and left but under a limited, technocratic mandate.

In introducing Letta’s lineup on Saturday, President Giorgio Napolitano said it was ‘‘the only government possible,’’ one whose formation ‘‘couldn’t be delayed further, in the interest of our country and of Europe.’’ He added that he trusted that politicians across the political spectrum would ‘‘get to work quickly in a spirit of fervid cohesion.’’

Cecile Kyenge, a doctor and native of Congo, was named minister of integration, Italy’s first nonwhite minister, while Josefa Idem, a German-born Olympic gold medal kayaker, will be minister of equal opportunities and sports.

Kyenge’s nomination was already being contested by the anti-immigrant Northern League.

Enrico Giovannini, the director of Istat, Italy’s national statistics agency, will be labor minister, responsible for implementing changes to the pension law under the Monti government, and Anna Maria Cancellieri, the interior minister in the Monti government, will become justice minister.


‘‘This government has a strong basis with very experienced people in key positions,’’ said Gianfranco Pasquino, a political science professor at John Hopkins University’s school of international studies in Bologna, Italy.

‘‘It is also remarkably young, and new ideas are useful and refreshing also in this country. It also has many women, who can express a very different point of view from what bad politics has expressed so far.’’

It is also likely to urge European leaders to ease up on the austerity agenda.