Skip to main content

Italy's president asks center-left lawmaker to form government

By Hada Messia and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 9:24 AM EDT, Wed April 24, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Enrico Letta highlights need to tackle unemployment, political reform in Italy
  • President Giorgio Napolitano asks the center-left politician to form a government
  • Letta, of the Democratic Party, says he will consult with political parties
  • Italy has been locked in a stalemate since inconclusive elections in February

Rome (CNN) -- Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has asked center-left politician Enrico Letta to form a new government, the president's spokesman said Wednesday, raising hopes of an end to the country's political impasse.

Speaking after their meeting, Letta told reporters he would consult with parties Thursday and then would return to the presidential palace to "fully accept" the mandate.

The step comes four days after Napolitano, 87, was re-elected by Italy's Parliament on Saturday to an unprecedented second term.

Italy has been locked in a political stalemate since February's general election left a three-way split between the right, the left and a wild-card party.

Italy's parliamentary paralysis?

A delegation led by Letta, a 46-year-old former deputy prime minister who belongs to the center-left Democratic Party, met with Napolitano on Tuesday.

Who will be the next Italian president?

Letta said that he was surprised to receive the call from Napolitano on Wednesday morning but that he accepted the challenge "with great commitment."

"We are going through a very difficult time," he said.

Letta said the most important step was to tackle unemployment, especially among young people -- a problem that is pushing many young Italians to leave the country.

The second most pressing issue facing Italy is the need for political reform, he said.

READ MORE: Mired in financial troubles, Italian couple commits suicide

Constitutional changes are needed to reduce the number of parliamentarians and fix an electoral system that has kept the country locked in a political stalemate it can't afford, he said.

"We need to do this together with the largest participation possible," said Letta.

He also said the policy of austerity in the European Union needs to change.

Napolitano said he was "satisfied" because the road to forming the new government is finally open. The only way this can happen is through a "large coalition" that can ensure a majority in both houses of Parliament, he said.

Letta is very young for a prime minister by Italian standards but is very experienced, he added.

The former leader of the Democratic Party, Pier Luigi Bersani, tried to form a government last month but failed. He resigned after the re-election of Napolitano.

No one has taken over the leadership of the party, the dominant member of a leftist coalition.

CNN's Hada Messia reported from Rome and Laura Smith-Spark wrote in London.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:48 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
The possibility of pockets of air remaining within the hull of the sunken South Korean ferry offers hope to rescuers -- and relatives -- say experts.
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Despite hundreds still missing after the sinking of a South Korean ferry, reports of text messages keep hope alive that there may be survivors yet.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Mentions of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests or political reform are still censored in China.
updated 1:31 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
It's hard not to be nervous, standing outside the Ebola isolation wards.
updated 5:31 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Russia's propaganda worse now than at height of Cold War, says Leon Aron, director of Russian studies at AEI.
Sanctions imposed against Russia are working as a deterrent, President Barack Obama and other White House senior administration officials said.
updated 12:40 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
A lack of progress in the search for MH370 is angering the families of victims.
updated 5:16 PM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Officials are launching their next option: an underwater vehicle to scan the ocean floor.
updated 11:09 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
The searches for the Titanic and Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 share common techniques.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
An "extraordinary" video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
updated 11:35 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
This year's Pyongyang marathon was open to foreign amateurs.
updated 8:30 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Explore each side's case, reconstructed from Pistorius' court affidavit and the prosecution's case during last year's bail hearing.
updated 1:53 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
How are police preparing for this year's 26.2-mile marathon, which takes place Monday?
updated 1:02 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Katrina Karkazis
Romance is hard, for anyone. For people with intersex traits, love poses unique challenges.
updated 8:38 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Suisse's Belinda Bencic returns the ball to France's Alize Cornet during the second match of the Fed Cup first round tennis tie France vs Switzerland on February 8, 2014 at the Pierre de Coubertin stadium in Paris. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
It's no easy matter becoming a world class tennis player. It's even harder when everyone (really -- everyone) is calling you the "new Martina Hingis".
updated 5:26 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
The "kill switch," a system for remotely disabling smartphones and wiping their data, will become standard in 2015.
updated 11:52 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
ADVERTISEMENT