Italy's new premier brings fresh ideas, keeps some familiar faces
The swearing in of Italy's 47th postwar government yesterday ended five months of political deadlock. The new governing coalition, which won 377 of 630 seats in elections last month, consists of the same five parties that made up the last coalition - the Christian Democrats, Socialists, Liberals, Republicans, and Social Democrats.Skip to next paragraph
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But there are some surprises. The main one is the choice of Christian Democrat Giovanni Goria as prime minister.
In announcing his 30-member cabinet, Mr. Goria, Italy's youngest premier, said: ``What we want to do is something important: show Italians that we know how to govern well, even in difficult conditions, and to work together to prepare easier conditions.''
Most observers view the choice of Cabinet members as an attempt to confront the issues that Goria has placed at the top of his agenda. He has stressed that his priorities are unemployment, poverty in southern Italy, environmental preservation, and a moratoriaum on nuclear energy projects.
Also near the top of his list is increasing government support for medium and small industries, a major source of Italian economic growth. In addition, he plans a reassessment of Italy's poorly functioning social services as well as fiscal policies that have permitted tax evasion estimated at billions of dollars.
Goria's Cabinet includes many new faces along with familiar political figures such as Foreign Minister Giulio Andreotti and ex-premier Amintore Fanfani.
The final list of ministers appears to take into account not only the country's social needs, but also political calculations. A last minute delay was caused by the tiny Social Democrat Party, which threatened to withdraw from the coalition unless assigned more prestigious posts. The Social Democrats were finally appeased, but some observers have taken this as a sign of difficulties which could bring about the early downfall of Goria's government.
But other observers are optimistic. The centrist daily La Stampa describes the new ministers as ``sons of their professions, rather than of parliament'', and says that Italian politics, in some areas at least, is giving way to knowledge and competence.
For instance the Ministry of Scientific Research which now has universities under its jurisdiction, is headed by the ex-dean of Rome University; an ex-ambassador and expert in international economy is the new minister for foreign trade; and a jurist, law expert, and criminologist is the new minister of justice.
Goria: superstar or just an accountant?
Giovanni Goria is young (44), good-looking, and has proven ability in government as a former treasury minister.
Such qualities earned him a place on the cover of Italy's major newsweeklies, l'Espresso and Panorama, and the title ``Goria superstar.''
The real Mr.Goria, however, would appear to be less of a demagogue. A self-effacing, hard-working economic expert, Goria was a major operator in Italy's longest-standing government, led by Socialist Bettino Craxi, which fell in March.
Mr. Craxi's major accomplishments were the reduction of inflation and labor costs - both carried out with the expertise of Goria. A prot'eg'e of the leader of the Christian Democratic Party, Ciriaco de Mita, Goria also proved an able team worker in the previous five-party coalition government. He has earned the respect of industrialists, many of whom consider him the best economics minister of the Craxi government.
Goria has come out favorably in recent opinion polls, though he has not excelled: 30 percent of Italians interviewed recently judged him well-prepared and more favorable for the premiership than party leader de Mita.
In many respects Goria is felt to be the epitome of the Christian Democrat that de Mita has been trying to produce in his party's front ranks over the last five years - young, dynamic, professional, and, quite simply, good at his job.
Goria's public image is also a new one for Italy; despite his good looks, he lacks the prima donna attitude that many politicians have once they are in the public eye. His strength lies in his use of everyday words and not the usual cloudy, wordy speeches politicians are known to give.
``This is already something of a revolution,'' says an expert in communications.
``He even knows how to listen, a rare quality in a politician,'' comments a Roman society hostess.
But perhaps the most endearing quality is Goria's opinion of himself as ``an accountant who became a politician.''
To some extent, this view echoes the opinion of one of his opponents: ``To me he is just an accountant and always will be.''