14 Nov 2011

Monti called to be new PM

10:16 am on 14 November 2011

Former EU Commissioner Mario Monti has been officially asked to form a new Italian government, following the resignation of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The appointment was announced on Sunday after President Giorgio Napolitano spent the day in 17 meetings with senior politicians.

Mr Monti needs a working majority in parliament to implement austerity measures. The BBC reports most parties have backed his nomination.

Austerity budget measures were confirmed by the lower house of Parliament on Saturday. They were approved by the Senate on Friday.

Mr Berlusconi went to the presidential palace on Saturday evening to tender his resignation.

Mr Monti is a respected economist and the head of a university with the reputation for producing Italy's finest thinkers.

Born in 1943, he studied economics at Bocconi University in Milan and Yale in the United States.

He taught economics at the University of Turin for 15 years before returning to Bocconi as rector in 1984.

In 1994, he was appointed the EU commissioner for the internal market and services.

He was made a senator for life on Friday by the president.

Timetable not revealed

In Brussels, European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso and EU President Herman Van Rompuy issued a joint statement welcoming Mr Monti's appointment.

Shortly after his appointment was announced, Mr Monti said Italy should be an "element of strength and not weakness" within the EU.

"We will aim at solving the financial situation, resume the path of growth. (We want to build) a future of dignity and hope for our children."

Mr Monti said he would respect parliament and hold urgent consultations with its political forces.

"I will work with a sense of urgency, but scrupulously," he said.

But he refused to set a timetable for the formation of a new government, and would not say who he planned to nominate as ministers.

The BBC reports Mr Monti has support in many quarters, but there is also significant opposition to him in Italy.