Italy’s new prime minister-designate, economist Mario Monti, says he will work quickly to form a new government, as he tries to lead the country out of a debt crisis in the eurozone’s third largest economy.
Mr. Monti made the comments late Sunday after Italian President Giorgio Napolitano picked the former European Union competition commissioner to be prime minister.
The nominee must present the names of his Cabinet ministers to Mr. Napolitano before he can be sworn in. He is expected to announce his choices Monday.
Mr. Monti received support for the top job from major opposition parties and some members of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s ruling center-right PDL party.
Mr. Monti has never held elected office in Italy and does not represent any Italian political party. He would lead the country until the next elections, due by 2013.
The new government faces the challenge of implementing a major austerity package approved by parliament in the past week to reduce the country’s huge public debt. European Union leaders welcomed the news of Mr. Monti’s appointment, saying it is an “encouraging sign,” but promised to keep monitoring the situation in Italy.
Analysts hope Mr. Monti can bring a calming presence to the country as it struggles to thwart an economic crisis caused by a ballooning public debt. Italy’s borrowing costs last week increased to its highest level since it joined the common euro currency zone, but the costs eased somewhat after Mr. Monti emerged as the likely new prime minister. Italian leaders wanted to have a new government in place before financial markets open Monday, to reassure investors that Italy’s political system is stabilizing.
EU leaders have been pressuring Italy to cut public spending to avoid becoming the latest euro zone member to request an EU bailout. EU officials worry that the Italian economy is too big to be rescued, and they fear its demise would be a major blow to the euro.
Mr. Berlusconi submitted his resignation to Mr. Napolitano late Saturday, hours after parliament gave final approval to the austerity package. The billionaire leader had promised to resign once the austerity package was passed.
The unpopular prime minister lost his parliamentary majority on Tuesday. Mr. Berlusconi had gradually lost the support of his governing coalition as Italy’s debt crisis worsened while he faced sex scandals and legal troubles.
The 75-year old outgoing leader has denied any wrongdoing.