November 14th, 2011
01:20 PM ET

Roundup: Monti takes the helm as Italy's new Prime Minister

Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Following the resignation of Italy's longtime leader Silvio Berlusconi, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano asked economist and former European Union commissioner Mario Monti to form a new government. Monti's technocratic cabinet (Guardian) will be tasked with implementing strict austerity measures considered necessary to avoid further sovereign debt contagion to the eurozone's third largest economy.

Italy's major political parties indicated they would back Monti's new government, which will be comprised mainly of technical experts (NYT) rather than politicians. Both houses of the Italian parliament are expected to approve the new cabinet within the next few days.

Berlusconi was forced to offer his resignation last week after investors lost confidence in his government's ability to pass stalled budgetary measures needed to rein in the country's staggering public debt–120 percent of GDP–sending yields on ten-year government bonds above 7 percent. Monti will have the difficult task of cutting that debt, while maintaining a semblance of growth (WSJ) in order to pay it down.

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Analysis

There has been a widespread sigh of relief in both Italyand the world's financial capitals now that Berlusconi has resigned. But Monti faces a steep uphill battle, and many are concerned that he won't last long in a country full of political pitfalls, says Der Spiegel.

The Berlusconi era has come to an end, and Mario Monti's transitional government must quickly restore confidence in Italyto save itself and the eurozone. There is no time for political games, writes Deutsche Welle's Bernd Riegert.

The dispatch of elected, if flawed, prime ministers in Greeceand Italy–and their replacement by supposed economic experts–is viewed as an affirmation that these nations mean business, says thisGuardian editorial.

MIDDLE EAST

Arab League Moves to Suspend Syria

The Arab League said it will suspend Syria's membership in the organization if the regime of Bashar al-Assad does not end its violent crackdown (NYT) against the opposition movement. The move prompted thousands of pro-Assad Syrians to attack the embassies ofTurkey,Qatar,Saudi Arabia, andFrance.

Meanwhile, Jordan's King Abdullah called on Assad to step down (BBC). The United Nations estimates that over thirty-five hundred people have been killed since anti-government uprisings began in March.

Founded as a loose confederation of states in 1945, the Arab League has struggled to overcome dysfunction and disunity among its members. The Arab revolts of 2011 offer the League a new opportunity to pursue necessary reforms, increase legitimacy, and prove its relevance, explains this CFR Backgrounder.

PACIFIC RIM

Obama Calls for Greater U.S. Role in Pacific

Hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Honolulu this weekend, U.S. President Barack Obama said the United States is a dominant "Pacific power" (WSJ), as he urged China–the main U.S. rival in the region–to reform its currency and trade policies.

On the sidelines of APEC, the United Statesand eight other countries agreed to an outline of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (IBT), a multilateral free trade agreement that would eliminate tariffs for members.Japan,Mexico, andCanada also expressed interest in joining the negotiations.

The Asia-Pacific partnership will become the key global economic driver, says Simon Tay, chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, in this CFR interview.

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Climate Conference Begins in Bangladesh

The eighteen-nation Climate Vulnerable Forum (al-Jazeera) commenced inDhaka,Bangladesh, for countries must vulnerable to climate change. The group is expected to issue a declaration calling for action by industrialized nations at next month's UN summit inDurban.

This component of CFR's Global Governance Monitor offers a broad look at international efforts to combat climate change.

INDIA: Meeting in New Delhi, Indian and Pakistani officials began two days of talks on expanding trade ties (AFP) between the neighbors, just weeks afterPakistan granted India Most Favored Nation status.

AFRICA

Sudan's Rebels Form New Alliance

Three rebel groups with ties to newly independent South Sudan, which operate in Sudan's southern border states, have formed an alliance called the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (GlobalPost) aimed at overthrowing Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

EQUITORIAL GUINEA: Voters are set to approve President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo's proposed constitutional changes (Reuters) that he says would advance democracy, even as human rights groups warned that the measures would enable the longtime leader to tighten his grip on power.

AMERICAS

Brazilian Forces Invade Rio Slum

Three thousand Brazilian police officers and soldiers occupied Rio De Janeiro's Rocinha slum in an effort to peacefully pacify (NYT) an area marred by drug violence and lawlessness ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.

UNITED STATES: Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney criticized President Barack Obama over his administration's Iran policy (CBS). Romney said if Obama were reelected,Iran would obtain a nuclear weapon, while it would not if Romney were president.

The UN nuclear agency's latest report contains no "gotcha" disclosures about Iran's nuclear capability but creates a clear impression of a weapons program in the works, says expert Mark Hibbs in this CFR Interview.

EUROPE

Germany Arrests Far-Right Terror Suspect

German officials arrested a woman suspected of founding a far-right, neo-Nazi organization (DerSpiegel)known as the National Socialist Underground. The group is accused of killing at least nine immigrants and a police officer.

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Topics: Daily Roundup • Italy

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. GOPisGreedOverPeople

    Hey just think. When the GOP regain power, they will start a war with Iran (totally unfunded of course). Then they will draft all the poor people to fight(die) in the war (just like the GOP wants) and give "no bid" contracts to the rich people. Killing two birds with one stone!!! Then we can use Iran's oil to pay for the war. And when the war is over, Iran will sell us cheap oil!!! Just like Iraq........Oh wait........Never mind.

    November 14, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Well said, GOPisGreedOverPeople. Thank you.

      November 14, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Reply
  2. j. von hettlingen

    It looks as if Berlusconi didn't accept his Waterloo and planned a comeback. His party is making life difficult for Mario Monti.

    November 14, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Reply
  3. Onesmallvoice

    Don't expect anything in Italy to improve any time soon. In fact, I expect that Mario Monti will do pretty the same thing like Keeping Italy in the Eurozone and stay with the Euro, all to the detriment of Italy's economy!

    November 14, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      You're wrong, the Iitalians need to improve their abilities to compete better and work harder, if their economy wants to grow again.

      November 15, 2011 at 6:21 am | Reply
  4. j. von hettlingen

    According to the New York Times, "the Arab League said it will suspend Syria's membership in the organization if the regime of Bashar al-Assad does not end its violent crackdown against the opposition movement".
    Syria was one of the six founding members of the Arab League in 1945. It had been criticised in the past for its inertia. During the Arab Spring it seems to have turned over a new leaf.

    November 15, 2011 at 6:17 am | Reply
  5. Cantmakethisup

    Monty will keep Italy afloat so that the investors, not the people, keep on getting their dividends. Stop the charade, default, go back to the lira and reopen your exported factories so that THE PEOPLE can get their life back.
    The Euro has turned the average Italian into a derelict.

    November 15, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Reply

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