ROME — Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti formed a government of bankers, diplomats and business executives Wednesday, saying the absence of politicians in his cabinet will spare political parties the "embarrassment" of taking the tough decisions needed to steer the country from financial disaster.
The 68-year-old former European Union competition commissioner and his Cabinet were sworn in at a solemn ceremony at the presidential palace that formally ended Silvio Berlusconi's 3½-year-old government and the media mogul's 17-year-long political dominance.
Monti faces his first major hurdle today when he presents his legislative agenda to parliament and subjects his government to a confidence vote in the Senate. The vote in the lower Chamber of Deputies is expected Friday.
Monti refused to discuss what if any new austerity measures he might have in store to bring Italy out of its debt crisis, saying only that economic growth was a priority and that he would reveal details of his agenda in his parliament address today.
He told reporters he would serve as Italy's economy minister as well as its prime minister as he seeks "sacrifices" from across the political spectrum to solve the economy's woes and get it growing again.
Restoring confidence is crucial because, as the third-largest economy in the eurozone, Italy is too big for Europe to rescue.
A debt default by Italy could break up the eurozone, a catastrophic event for the global economy.