Monti takes Italy's top job, aiming to end crisis

    Just Watched

    Creating a new Italian government

Creating a new Italian government 02:53

Story highlights

  • Mario Monti and his new ministers hold their first Cabinet meeting
  • Italy's president says the new government's creation was "delicate, difficult"
  • The new government includes Italy's first female interior and justice ministers
  • Berlusconi resigned over the weekend in the face of a debt crisis

Mario Monti, the man tasked with hauling Italy out of the debt crisis that brought down Silvio Berlusconi, took office as prime minister Wednesday.

Monti announced he would also be finance minister, at least temporarily.

He replaces the flamboyant Berlusconi, who led the country on and off for 18 years.

Monti and his new ministers sat down for their first Cabinet meeting Wednesday evening, as they seek to find a way out of a crisis that has shaken the confidence of global investors.

The new prime minister will present his government's plans to the Italian Senate on Thursday.

Debate on the proposals will be followed by a vote of confidence, a measure to see if the new government has the support of a majority of lawmakers.

Monti took the oath of office Wednesday afternoon in the grand Baroque Ball Room of the Quirinale Palace, the official residence of President Giorgio Napolitano.

    The government lineup the new prime minister unveiled will be composed entirely of technocrats, without career politicians.

    That will make it easier to govern and will help calm political tensions in the country, Monti said.

    It also emphasizes "that we are talking about an extraordinary moment, both because of the economic difficulties and because of the exasperated relations among the political forces," he said.

    Napolitano said he believes the new government "has been born in a positive climate." Its creation has "been delicate and difficult ... but I think we've all managed to do it," he said.

    Italy has already seen "many positive signals" from the European Union as a result, he added.

    The 68-year-old former European Union commissioner won the backing of Berlusconi's political party and Italy's largest left-wing party on Tuesday.

    Monti said it is "very interesting and very demanding" to try to form a government.

    His government will include three women as ministers, including Anna Maria Cancellieri, the first woman to be Italy's interior minister, and Paola Severino, who will be the country's first female justice minister.

    The foreign minister will be Giulio Terzi Sant'Agata, while Corrado Passera becomes minister of industry.

    Monti said he will serve as finance minister until he nominates someone else for the post.

    The new prime minister refused to answer journalists' questions about pension reform or taxes on wealth, saying he would present his plans to lawmakers Thursday.

    Monti faces an arduous task, because 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.

    He 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 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 is expected to give his first speech as a lawmaker in the lower house of Parliament on Friday, according to Italian media reports.

    His People of Freedom party remains the strongest force in Parliament, and Berlusconi has said he plans to remain active in it.

    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 by Lucas Papademos, a former European Central Bank official.

        Markets in crisis

      • German Chancellor Angela Merkel talks with Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble during a session at the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) on June 25, 2013 in Berlin.

        German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble says the eurozone's problems are not solved, but "we are in a much better shape than we used to be some years ago."
      • IBIZA, SPAIN - AUGUST 21:  A man dives into the sea in Cala Salada beach on August 21, 2013 in Ibiza, Spain. The small island of Ibiza lies within the Balearics islands, off the coast of Spain. For many years Ibiza has had a reputation as a party destination. Each year thousands of young people gather to enjoy not only the hot weather and the beaches but also the array of clubs with international DJ's playing to vast audiences. Ibiza has also gained a reputation for drugs and concerns are now growing that the taking and trafficking of drugs is spiralling out of control.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

        Summer could not have come soon enough for Lloret de Mar, a tourist resort north of Barcelona. Despite the country's troubles, it's partying.
      • The Euro logo is seen in front of the European Central bank ECB prior to the press conference following the meeting of the Governing Council in Frankfurt/Main, Germany, on April 4, 2013.

        The global recovery has two speeds: That of the stimulus-fed U.S. and that of the austerity-starved eurozone, according to a new report.
      • The flags of the countries which make up the European Union, outside the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

        The "rich man's club" of Europe faces economic decay as it struggles to absorb Europe's "poor people", according to economic experts.
      • Packed beaches and Brit pubs? Not necessarily. Here's what drew travelers to one of Spain's most beautiful regions in the first place

        Spain's economic crisis is in its sixth straight year yet tourism, worth 11% of GDP, is holding its own, one of the few bright spots on a bleak horizon.
      • Photographer TTeixeira captured these images from a May Day protest in Porto, Portugal, Wednesday by demonstrators angered by economic austerity measures. "People protested with great order, but showed discontent against the government who they blame for this economic crisis," she said. "They want the government to resign and the Troika [European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank] out of this country."

        As European financial markets close for the spring celebration of May Day, protesters across Europe and beyond have taken to the streets to demonstrate.
      • Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic delivers a speech in Mostar, on April 9, 2013. Prime Ministers from Bosnia's neighboring countries arrived in Bosnia with their delegations to attend the opening ceremony of "Mostar 2013 Trade Fair".

        As Croatia prepares to enter the 27-nation European Union, the country's Prime Minister says Italy must return to being the "powerhouse of Europe."
      • Anti-eviction activists and members of the Platform for Mortgage Victims (PAH) take part in a protest against the government's eviction laws in front of the Popular Party (PP) headquarters in Mallorca on April 23, 2013.

        Spain's unemployment rate rose to a record high of 27.2% in the first quarter of 2013, the Spanish National Institute of Statistics said Thursday.
      • People protest against the Spanish laws on house evictions outside the Spanish parliament on February 12, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.

        Spain has seen hundreds of protests since the "Indignados" movement erupted in 2011, marches and sit-ins are now common sights in the capital.