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Italy's President Taps Minister of Interior as Craxi Successor

April 11, 1987|Associated Press

ROME — Italy's President Francesco Cossiga on Friday asked Interior Minister Oscar Luigi Scalfaro to form a government to replace Bettino Craxi's five-party coalition which collapsed in political feuding.

Scalfaro, a 68-year-old Christian Democrat, said he will begin consultations today aimed at fashioning a coalition with the same parties as Craxi's Socialist-led government.

The prime minister-designate said he will "pacify and clear up" strained relations because the situation is "particularly difficult."

Craxi's coalition, which stays on in a caretaker capacity, also includes the Social Democrats, Republicans and Liberals.

The appointment of Scalfaro was interpreted as Cossiga's assessment that parliamentary elections may be needed a year ahead of schedule to solve the five-week-old political crisis.

Italy's first Socialist prime minister, Craxi set a record for longevity after serving 3 1/2 years. He resigned Thursday after Christian Democrats demanded he turn over his post to them and withdrew from his coalition.

Cossiga turned to Scalfaro after former prime minister and current Senate President Amintore Fanfani and Foreign Minister Giulio Andreotti both said they were not interested in the job.

A presidential aide said Scalfaro was a "natural" choice because he represents the largest party and commands respect across party lines. He has not been involved in partisan quarrels.

Some Christian Democrats suggest he would be a good choice to oversee elections because the Interior Ministry handles votes nationwide.

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