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Amato Patches Together Italy’s 51st Postwar Government

June 28, 1992

ROME (AP) _ Premier Giuliano Amato on Sunday formed Italy’s 51st postwar government, barely patching together a coalition to end a two-month period in which the country was virtually rudderless.

The 54-year-old Socialist, a former treasury minister, was sworn in Sunday afternoon. Earlier, he presented a list of cabinet ministers to President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, signaling he had formed a government.

But Amato failed to win support beyond the four-party coalition led by Christian Democrat Giulio Andreotti that resigned April 24. Coalition members, like other major parties, had been battered by a protest vote in parliamentary elections April 5-6.

Andreotti’s government remained in a caretaker role after it resigned.

Observers said Amato’s new government of Christian Democrats, Socialists, Liberals and Social Democrats might not last long either, since it has only a paper-thin majority in Parliament.

Speaking briefly after his three-hour meeting with Scalfaro, Amato said the new government would go before Parliament this week for a vote of confidence.

He announced he was combining several ministries to reduce the total from 32 to 24. The other major change was the departure of Andreotti, the 73-year- old dean of Italian politicians who has been premier seven times.

The weakness of the Amato government could make it difficult for Italy to quickly undertake the necessary belt-tightening to qualify for European economic integration.

In the first four months of this year, the public deficit ballooned to $42 billion, 28 percent higher than last year.

In addition to combating the deficit, Amato has pledged to give priority to fighting the Mafia and reforming Italy’s government system, widely derided as inefficient and riddled with cronyism.

Amato, a U.S.-educated law professor from Tuscany who has been a key aide to Socialist leader Bettino Craxi, is known as ″Dr. Subtle″ for his ability in handling political problems.

Amato has headed several government reform commissions and is known for economic acumen. A member of the Socialist party since 1958, he was elected to Parliament in 1983 and re-elected twice.

In 1990, Parliament passed a law bearing Amato’s name that is aimed at introducing more privatization into Italy’s state-dominated banking system.

Creation of a government was complicated by a last-minute decision by the Christian Democrats, Italy’s dominant party, to require its members to choose between being cabinet ministers and keeping their parliamentary seats.

The move was intended to present ministers as more politically independent and introduce new faces into government.

Major Cabinet shifts announced Sunday included the departure of Gianni De Michelis from the Foreign Ministry, to be replaced by Interior Minister Enzo Scotti; the naming of veteran Christian Democrat Senator Nicola Mancino for the Interior post; and the selection of a leading Socialist parliamentarian, Salvo Ando, for Defense. Claudio Martelli, another top Socialist, will remain at the Justice Ministry.

The Cabinet includes seven technocrats, with Franco Reviglio, former president of the Italian state energy company ENI, heading the Budget Ministry, and Piero Barucci, an economics professor and former chairman of the Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank, becoming the new treasury minister.

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