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Enrico Letta - 2013-14

Enrico Letta On 25 April 2013 former Christian Democrats (i Popolari) Enrico Letta was designated as the new Prime Minister. Letta was sworn in as President of the Council of Ministers on 28 April 2013. Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano named the center-left Democratic Party (PD) Vice Secretary Enrico Letta to form a new government in a bid to end political stalemate. Letta said he accepted the mandate with reservation. In May 2006 Letta (nephew of Berlusconi's U/S Gianni Letta) was appointed Undersecretary to Prime Minister Prodi. At that time Letta, an economist by profession, described himself as one of the few in the new government trying to preserve what labor flexibility there was in the Italian system. He susequently served as Deputy Prime Minister.

He served as Minister for EU Affairs (1998-1999), as Minister for Industry, Commerce and Crafts (January-April 2000, during the second DAlema Government) and as Minister for Industry, Commerce and Crafts and Foreign Trade (2000-2001, during the second Amato Government). From 1993 to May 2013 he managed an independent think tank, Arel, founded by the late Beniamino Andreatta. He was also Vice Chairman of Aspen Institute Italia, President of the Italy-Spain Dialogue Forum, and a member of the Trilateral Commission.

He has been a member of the Italian Parliament since 2001, excluding from 2004 to 2006 when he was a member of the European Parliament. He was Undersecretary of State to the Prime Minister of the center-left government led by Romano Prodi from 2006 to 2008. He also served as deputy secretary of the Democratic Party (PD) from 2009 to 2013.

His whole career and thought have been shaped by a strong commitment to Europe. He is the author of many books on international and economic affairs, with particular reference to EU enlargement, including: Euro s - Morire per Maastricht (Laterza, 1997); Dialogo intorno allEuropa (with L. Caracciolo, Laterza, 2002); Lallargamento dellUnione Europea (Il Mulino, 2003); LEuropa a Venticinque (Il Mulino, 2005); In questo momento sta nascendo un bambino (Rizzoli, 2007); Costruire una Cattedrale (Mondadori, 2009) and LEuropa finita? (with L. Caracciolo, ADD Editore 2010).

Letta had been a leader of the Democracy and Liberty--The Margherita (Daisy) party prior to the formation of the Democratic Party (PD) in late 2007, which saw the merger of Italy's Democrats of the Left (DS) with Daisy. The Daisy Party included many former Christian Democrats closely linked to the Vatican. The DS argued forcefully for the PD to be included in the European Socialist Party (PSE), a step Daisy leaders strongly opposed. This "identity" issue was essential for party stalwarts in both groups, weary of surrendering the party soul to former "communists" and former "Christian Democrats," respectively.

Letta would try to form a coalition government capable of carrying out urgent measures to tackle deepening social-economic crisis, including changes to an electoral law considered largely responsible for the political impasse. The main forces in parliament, namely the PD, Berlusconi's center-right People of Freedom (PdL) and Civic Choice of outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti, have agreed to support the Letta government.

Italy's center-left prime minister-designate Enrico Letta met Silvio Berlusconi and other center-right officials on 27 April 2013 to try to resolve the remaining differences holding up the formation of a coalition government between the rival parties. Letta, given a mandate to form a government by President Giorgio Napolitano, was under pressure to reach an agreement with the center-right to end the political stalemate that had paralyzed Italy since inconclusive elections in February. Italy, the euro zone's third-largest economy, had been without an effective government for months, with the long post-election deadlock holding up any concerted effort to end a recession set to become the longest since World War Two. Without an agreement, there would be no alternative to new elections, a disastrous prospect for the center-left PD, which threw away a 10-point lead before the last poll and trailed Berlusconi by more than five points, according to a 26 April 2013 poll by the SWG institute.

Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5-Star Movements ruled out taking part in a government made up of the two main parties. Grillo called a right-left coalition "an orgy worthy of the best of bunga bunga", a reference to Berlusconi's much publicized parties at his private villas.

On 27 April 2013 Italian center-left politician Enrico Letta confirmed that he could form a government that would include one of Berlusconi's closest allies as deputy prime minister. Letta said Angelino Alfano, secretary of Berlusconi's People of Liberty (PDL) party, would be deputy prime minister and interior minister. The cabinet formed by Letta is a combination of left- and right-leaning party stalwarts, independents and newcomers. The mix is a recipe for power struggles.

Letta managed to break the resistance of the obtrusive conservative Silvio Berlusconi after months of political skirmishes. Italy's coalition government was a shaky alliance of center-right forces with the center-left Democratic Party. Tensions between Berlusconi loyalists and his opponents escalated after Italy's high court upheld the media mogul's tax fraud conviction in August 2013. Berlusconi also faced expulsion from the senate. On 28 September 2013 center-right ministers in the Italian government announced their intention to resign, a move that could cause a collapse of Prime Minister's Enrico Letta's grand-coalition.

Deputy Prime and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano announced that all five ministers of the People of Freedom Party would resign, but he did not say when. The party chief, Silvio Berlusconi, urged the ministers to resign citing the government's moves to raise Italy's value-added tax and Letta's decision to postpone government business until he had parliaments' full support. In November 2013, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano and some of his followers split from the Berlusconi camp and formed the Social Democrats when Berlusconi denounced the "grand coalition" Letta established.

He was born in Pisa (Tuscany) and he spent the first years of his life in Strasbourg. He graduated in International Law at the University of Pisa and obtained a PhD in European Union Law at the School for Advanced Studies SantAnna of Pisa. He and his wife, Gianna, are the proud parents of three children: Giacomo, Lorenzo and Francesco. He is an avid NBA fan and a Milan AC supporter.

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Page last modified: 17-02-2014 18:09:35 ZULU