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The BBC's David Willey reports
"Mr Amato will now spend Easter selecting a new cabinet"
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Alessandro Mussolini
"The people said they wanted the centre-right to govern"
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Friday, 21 April, 2000, 20:21 GMT 21:21 UK
Italy set for new government
Giuliano Amato (left) and  Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
President Ciampi (right) had talks with Mr Amato on Friday
Italy's President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi has asked Treasury Minister Giuliano Amato to form the country's 58th post-war government.

If he wins a confidence vote in parliament, Mr Amato will replace the previous leader of the four-year-old centre-left coalition, Massimo D'Alema, who resigned after a disastrous showing in last Sunday's local elections.

This is not an impossible job

Giuliano Amato

Mr Amato's preliminary mandate follows two days of consultations between President Ciampi and Italian political leaders in an effort to solve the country's latest political crisis.

The right-wing opposition, led by the media magnate, Silvio Berlusconi, says that Sunday's election defeat has robbed the left of the authority to govern, and that early elections should be held.

Following his talks with President Ciampi, Mr Amato said he intended to lead a "serious, efficient" government that would get things done.

He said he would try to put together a government that would count "on the cohesion of the majority, cohesion that must be increased and reinforced".

Working majority?

President Ciampi made his choice after the centre-left coalition of ex-communists, former Christian Democrats, centrists, moderate Marxists, Greens, socialists and republicans told him they could guarantee Mr Amato a majority in parliament.

The BBC's David Willey in Rome says Mr Amato will now spend the Easter holiday selecting his new cabinet before returning to President Ciampi to be sworn in. He would then face his first major test - confidence votes in both houses of parliament.

Mr D'Alema quit after defeat in regional elections

Our correspondent says there are a number of MPs belonging to centre parties who could switch allegiance, making the outcome of any such vote uncertain.

If Mr Amato fails a confidence vote, President Ciampi could dissolve parliament and call a snap general election a year ahead of schedule.

'Dr Subtle'

Mr Amato served as Italy's premier between 1992 and 1993 during the "Clean Hands" kickback scandals which felled the corrupt political old guard.

He was dubbed "Dr Subtle" for his finesse in reducing public spending. He also lived through a currency crisis, which forced him to devalue the lira.

Mr D'Alema, the first former communist to head an Italian government, had been in office for 18 months.

He took over from Romano Prodi, who left Italian politics to become president of the European Commission in Brussels.

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20 Apr 00 | Europe
Italy seeks end to crisis
19 Apr 00 | Europe
Italian premier resigns
19 Dec 99 | Europe
Profile: Massimo D'Alema
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