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Italy PM-designate meets Berlusconi party leaders

From Hada Messia, CNN
updated 2:26 PM EST, Tue November 15, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Mario Monti says he'll present a government Wednesday
  • Monti has been trying to round up political support to become prime minister
  • Berlusconi resigned over the weekend in the face of a debt crisis
  • He is the second European leader to fall this month over the crisis

Rome (CNN) -- Italy's Prime Minister-designate Mario Monti says he will present a government to the country's president for approval on Wednesday after two days of negotiations with leaders of the country's major political blocs.

The 68-year-old former European Union commissioner won the backing of outgoing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's political party and Italy's largest left-wing party on Tuesday. He told Italian lawmakers Tuesday evening that he would be taking his proposed slate of ministers to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Wednesday.

"I am convinced of the capacity of our country to overcome this difficult time," Monti said.

Berlusconi resigned Saturday night, prompting cheers, flag-waving and singing in celebrations outside his office, and ending an era in Italian politics. He was brought down by difficulties in pushing through budget cuts after 18 years in and out of the prime minister's office.

Berlusconi's People of Freedom party remains the strongest force in parliament, and Berlusconi has said he plans to remain active in it. But the head of the party, Angelino Alfano, called his talks with Monti "positive" and said he thought Monti's effort to form a new government "is destined to be successful."

Berlusconi's successor will face an arduous task, as Italy has one of the highest national debts in Europe at €1.9 trillion ($2.6 trillion) -- about 120% of GDP -- and has seen low growth in recent years.

Monti suggested Monday that his government might not last much longer than a year, until scheduled elections in early 2013. And at any time, parliament could dissolve his government "because of lack of trust," he said.

It is "obvious" that the task at hand is an emergency, and that to achieve economic growth and social equity "should be the priorities," Monti said.

Berlusconi is the second prime minister to resign this month over the debt crisis sweeping across Europe, following last week's replacement of Greece's George Papandreou. Papandreou was replaced Wednesday by Lucas Papademos, a former European Central Bank official.

CNN's Matthew Chance, Laura Smith-Spark and Zain Verjee and the CNNMoney staff contributed to this report.

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