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Italy-Government

Berlusconi forms new Italian government in 3rd stint as PM

By Alessandra Rizzo

Associated Press Writer

ROME (AP) — Conservative leader Silvio Berlusconi formed Italy’s 62nd postwar government on Wednesday for his third stint as premier.

The 71-year-old media mogul already served as premier for five years, a record in Italy’s postwar history of revolving-door governments. There have been 61 governments since the end of World War II, and some premiers have been forced to quit after only months in power.

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This time around, Berlusconi will lead a Cabinet facing the difficult tasks of kick-starting the sluggish economy, boosting productivity and cutting the privileges of a political class that is much maligned and largely discredited.

Berlusconi formally received the mandate to form the government from President Giorgio Napolitano and the two talked at the presidential palace for about an hour.

Berlusconi formally received the mandate to form the government from President Giorgio Napolitano and the two talked at the presidential palace for about an hour.

The new government will be sworn in Thursday and then must undergo a vote of confidence in parliament, which is safely controlled by Berlusconi’s conservative forces.

Berlusconi scored a commanding victory in parliamentary elections last month, ousting his center-left rivals and returning to power just two years after losing the previous election. He served a brief stint as premier in 1994 and his record-breaking term between 2001 and 2006.

The Italian economy has grown more slowly than the 15-nation euro-zone average for more than a decade, and it risks falling into recession this year amid the global slowdown. Berlusconi has promised tax breaks on overtime work and bonuses linked to productivity gains.

Another priority is cleaning up the garbage that has piled up in the streets of Naples. He has repeatedly said the garbage crisis has greatly damaged Italy’s image and has promised to hold Cabinet meetings in the southern city until the problem is solved.

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