Analysis - Italy's new cabinet must act fast
ROME (Reuters) - Italy's new government comprises well-respected figures, but Prime Minister Mario Monti select team will have to act fast and rely on more than just technical competence to overcome vested interests and pass unpopular major reforms.
A mix of academic specialists and experienced administrators, the cabinet was generally welcomed as a competent team capable of overseeing the painful measures needed to restore Italy's economic credibility.
With Italy's main parties ensuring no politicians took posts in the new government, Monti turned to the upper levels of Italy's administrative and business class to confront a debt crisis on the point of tipping out of control.
The fact that none of the ministers has been elected may make it harder to win popular support for new taxes, job cuts or pension reforms that could hit ordinary Italians hard.
"This could be a weakness but we will see with the start of their work if there is support and clear agreement from the parliament," said Credit Suisse Economist Giovanni Zanni.
"I expect there will be this support. The new government will be able to use its initial phase to draft measures immediately," he said.
A respected economics professor, Monti has taken the crucial economy and finance portfolio himself and named Corrado Passera, chief executive of Intesa Sanpaolo, Italy's biggest retail bank, as industry minister.
Passera's connections to Italian and European boardrooms should add extra clout to a ministry that Monti said would have a central place in his government. His political sympathies lie with the centre-left and he is rumoured to have been considered for a ministry in Romano Prodi's 2006 government.
Interior Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri, a former police chief, Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi di Santagata, a former diplomat and Defence Minister Giampaolo Di Paola, an admiral and member of NATO's military committee, are all experienced administrators.
"This is a government of skilled people, and this means a lot. They are all experts in their respective fields," said Giacomo Vaciago, Professor Of Economics at Milan's Cattolica University. "This is a team of people that have known each other for a long time and they respect each other."
Being sworn in, Monti said his government had received signals of support from Italy's European partners and said he hoped the new cabinet would help calm financial markets that Italy needs to refinance some 200 billion euros ($273 billion) of bonds by the end of April.
But the new team will have to work fast. Italy's borrowing costs have soared, the yield on its 10 year bonds rising above 7 percent, a level widely seen as unsustainable.
Monti is expected to be confirmed in office in a confidence vote in the Senate on Thursday and a separate vote on Friday in the lower house.
He will outline his policy platform at the same time and is expected to stick to the broad reform programme outlined by the European Central Bank in August when it agreed to prop up Italy's battered debt by buying bonds on the market.
Controlling public spending, reforming the pension system, loosening job protection measures, opening up protected professions to more competition and imposing a tax on private assets are some of the measures he could announce.
(Additional reporting by Steve Scherer, Gavin Jones and Nigel Tutt; Editing by Jon Boyle)
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