Letta warns emergency not over, expectations too high

Premier calls on Senate to back his left-right administration

Letta warns emergency not over, expectations too high

Rome, April 30 - Premier Enrico Letta on Tuesday tried to inject a dose of reality into what he said were overblown expectations for his new government by saying that Italy's emergency will not be over with the passage of the second of two confidence votes it needs to take power. ''The emergency won't disappear because the House has given its confidence and the Senate, as I hope, does today,'' Letta told the Senate Tuesday ahead of a confidence vote there. The new premier pointed to rosy media coverage of his left-right government's appointment as setting the bar too high. ''I've realized there is a big problem - expectations are frankly excessive,'' Letta said ahead of the Senate confidence vote proceedings. During his speech to the Senate, Letta reiterated that his government will not last longer than 18 months unless it is capable of passing several key reforms. ''I've talked about 18 months because I think the life of the government should be linked to certain achievements,'' Letta told the Senate ahead of the confidence vote. One key achievement will be simply keeping together a government alliance that is made up of the centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party, led by former premier Silvio Berlusconi, together with members of former premier Mario Monti's Civic Choice party and Letta's own centre-left Democratic Party (PD). In a sign of just how difficult that will be, Berlusconi on Tuesday reminded Letta that scrapping IMU, an unpopular real-estate tax introduced by Monti, is a precondition for the PdL's support of the Letta executive. ''We won't support a government that does not implement these measures. We took up a commitment with the voters in the election campaign and we want to maintain it'', Berlusconi said ahead of the Senate confidence vote. Letta has so far said he will suspend the June tranche of the payment but has declined to promise scrapping the IMU altogether. Once passage of the confidence vote is attained in the Senate, Letta and his executive will have full power. Letta is set to begin a series of encounters with European leaders starting later Tuesday afternoon with a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

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