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Alfano foresees government 'lasting a long time'

Deficit limits to be broached 'once growth reforms in place'

26 February, 17:06
Alfano foresees government 'lasting a long time' (see related) (ANSA) - Berlin, February 26 - Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said in Berlin on Wednesday he thought the new government "would last a long time". Alfano, a holdover from the previous government of Enrico Letta, spoke after meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The new government of Premier Matteo Renzi is the fourth in less than three years, and the third straight to enter office without elections. An item at the top of its agenda is to reform the country's election law, to prevent the type of deadlock that followed last February's inconclusive vote, leading to Letta's shaky and unnatural left-right coalition.

"(Passing) these reforms are incompatible with a government that lasts for only one year," said Alfano. The interior minister went on to say his meeting with the German leader was "positive".

It was a prelude to a bilateral summit between Merkel and Renzi next month, when the premier says he will have ready a package of labour reforms and job-boosting measures to help Italy recover from its worst recession since World War II. Over the past several years Italy has undergone severe austerity measures to get its coffers in order and improve investor confidence in the eurozone's third-largest economy. In 2009 the European Commission opened an excessive-deficit procedure against Italy after its deficit-to-GDP ratio exceeded 3%, obliging it to divert public money into trying to reduce that ratio.

It was taken off the procedure last year after bringing the ratio below 3%, while it remains very close. Some have speculated Italy may seek to renegotiate the penalties. Alfano said Italy will broach the topic "with its European partners, but only once Italy has passed reforms to consolidate growth. "We have no intention of ruining our public accounts. "We want to be a government that seriously aims to reduce taxes without breaking the bank".