| ROME, April 12
ROME, April 12 A panel of "wise men" named by
Italy's president proposed sweeping political and economic
reforms on Friday, but there was little sign they would achieve
the aim of creating a consensus programme to unite feuding
Italy has been left with a caretaker government for 45 days
since an inconclusive election gave no party enough seats in
parliament to govern alone, while personal enmity among faction
leaders has made it all but impossible to agree a coalition.
In an effort to bridge the divide, President Giorgio
Napolitano, whose term ends in May, named a 10-man group last
month to come up with policy proposals that could serve as the
basis for a consensus programme.
The panel proposed a range of changes to Italy's governing
system: red tape should be slashed, the bloated political system
cut back, administration simplified and tax collection made more
Italy should also do more to help families hurt by the
recession and to encourage small and medium sized business,
while sticking to fiscal austerity targets promised to European
partners, the panel said.
"The decisions are now up to the political forces and it
will be up to my successor to draw the conclusions," Napolitano
said after meeting the group in his office at Rome's Quirinale
The panel includes a former head of the constitutional
court, the head of statistics agency ISTAT and a member of the
Bank of Italy board, as well as senior politicians from the main
centre-left and centre-right parties.
Italy's political parties all say they are committed to deep
reforms that would improve the way the country is run to help
bring it out of its economic crisis. But personal rivalries
among their leaders have left little room for unity.
The election on February 25 left parliament split into three
rival blocs with no group in command of the majority in both
houses needed to form a government.
The centre-left alliance led by Pier Luigi Bersani won
control of the lower house but fell short of a majority in the
Senate where he would need the support of rival parties to win a
He has ruled out an alliance with the centre-right bloc led
by Silvio Berlusconi and has failed to win the backing of the
anti-establishment 5-Star Movement led by ex-comic Beppe Grillo,
which rules out any deal with the mainstream parties.