Italy finally forms new government
Italy has finally formed a new government, a coalition of Silvio Berlusconi's forces and centre-left rivals who forged an unusual alliance to break a two-month stalemate following inconclusive elections.
Enrico Letta, a centre-left leader, will be premier in the government, which marks the latest political comeback by Mr Berlusconi.
The media mogul's conservative forces' participation is crucial to the new government's viability.
President Giorgio Napolitano said the government will enjoy the support of both chambers of the heavily polarised Parliament.
Mr Letta and his ministers, including Mr Berlusconi's top political aide, will be sworn in on Sunday.
Mr Letta, 46, is a moderate with a reputation as a political bridge-builder. He is also the nephew of Mr Berlusconi's long-time adviser, Gianni Letta, a relationship seen as smoothing over often tense relations between the two main coalition partners.
Serving as deputy premier and interior minister will be Mr Berlusconi's top political aide, Angelino Alfano. He is a former justice minister who was the architect of legislation that critics say was tailor-made to help Mr Berlusconi in his many judicial woes.
The creation of the coalition capped the latest political comeback for Mr Berlusconi, who was forced to resign in 2011 as Italy slid deeper in to the eurozone's sovereign debt crisis.
Mr Berlusconi, a fervent anti-Communist, views Italy's left as a personal nemesis, and Mr Letta's Democratic Party has some of its roots in what was the West's largest Communist Party. The new premier expressed "sober satisfaction over the team we put together and its willingness" to form a coalition.
President Napolitano, who tasked Mr Letta with creating a government out of bitter rivals, called upon the coalition partners to work "in a spirit of absolute, indispensable cohesion" as they work for sorely needed political and economic reforms. "I hope there is maximum cohesion," said Mr Napolitano.