Letta’s turnhttps://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/lettas-turn/

Letta’s turn

Italy's latest prime minister will have to strike a delicate balance between left and right

Italy’s latest prime minister will have to strike a delicate balance between left and right

Angela Merkel,whose austerity-driven stewardship of the debt crisis in the eurozone sealed the fate of two centre-left leaders in Europe — Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and George Papandreou — wished Enrico Letta,the new boy on the European block,a “truly lucky hand”. He will need it… Size alone dictates respect. Being the eurozone’s third-largest economy,Italy has got more chance of being listened to than Greece or Spain.

Letta’s task domestically is not an easy one. He heads what the Germans would call a grand coalition,dominated by Italy’s two biggest mainstream parties — Pier Luigi Bersani’s Democratic party (PD) and Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) — and Mario Monti’s Civic Choice. Letta has started well — in Berlusconi’s eyes — by suspending a planned increase in sales tax and a housing levy. But unlike Berlusconi,he knows that growth will not be stimulated by tax cuts alone. And so he has to find other means,while filling a budget hole between 10 billion euros and 12 billion euros. Both left and right have a vested interest in blocking reforms,such as streamlining Italy’s parliamentary model and abolishing the provinces. Much depends on how disciplined his own party is…

Letta will have to have his feet more firmly on the ground. The danger remains that,through no fault of his own,his government is short-lived.

From a leader in ‘The Guardian’,London