Italy's president asks center-left lawmaker to form government
April 24, 2013 -- Updated 1324 GMT (2124 HKT)
- NEW: Enrico Letta highlights need to tackle unemployment, political reform in Italy
- President Giorgio Napolitano asks the center-left politician to form a government
- Letta, of the Democratic Party, says he will consult with political parties
- Italy has been locked in a stalemate since inconclusive elections in February
Rome (CNN) -- Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has asked center-left politician Enrico Letta to form a new government, the president's spokesman said Wednesday, raising hopes of an end to the country's political impasse.
Speaking after their meeting, Letta told reporters he would consult with parties Thursday and then would return to the presidential palace to "fully accept" the mandate.
The step comes four days after Napolitano, 87, was re-elected by Italy's Parliament on Saturday to an unprecedented second term.
Italy has been locked in a political stalemate since February's general election left a three-way split between the right, the left and a wild-card party.
Italy's parliamentary paralysis?
A delegation led by Letta, a 46-year-old former deputy prime minister who belongs to the center-left Democratic Party, met with Napolitano on Tuesday.
Who will be the next Italian president?
Letta said that he was surprised to receive the call from Napolitano on Wednesday morning but that he accepted the challenge "with great commitment."
"We are going through a very difficult time," he said.
Letta said the most important step was to tackle unemployment, especially among young people -- a problem that is pushing many young Italians to leave the country.
The second most pressing issue facing Italy is the need for political reform, he said.
READ MORE: Mired in financial troubles, Italian couple commits suicide
Constitutional changes are needed to reduce the number of parliamentarians and fix an electoral system that has kept the country locked in a political stalemate it can't afford, he said.
"We need to do this together with the largest participation possible," said Letta.
He also said the policy of austerity in the European Union needs to change.
Napolitano said he was "satisfied" because the road to forming the new government is finally open. The only way this can happen is through a "large coalition" that can ensure a majority in both houses of Parliament, he said.
Letta is very young for a prime minister by Italian standards but is very experienced, he added.
The former leader of the Democratic Party, Pier Luigi Bersani, tried to form a government last month but failed. He resigned after the re-election of Napolitano.
No one has taken over the leadership of the party, the dominant member of a leftist coalition.
CNN's Hada Messia reported from Rome and Laura Smith-Spark wrote in London.
Part of complete coverage on
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1818 GMT (0218 HKT)
While aspects of the fighting in Gaza resemble earlier clashes, this time feels different, writes military analyst Rick Francona.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1438 GMT (2238 HKT)
The death of an American from Ebola fuels fears of the further global spread of the virus.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
Nearly two weeks after MH17 was blown out of the sky, Dutch investigators have yet to lay eyes on the wreckage. How useful will it be now?
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1510 GMT (2310 HKT)
The U.S. and EU are imposing new sanctions on Moscow -- but will they have any effect?
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
The reported firing of artillery from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle, says CNN's military analyst Rick Francona.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 0846 GMT (1646 HKT)
The young boy stops, stares, throws ammunition casings at the reporter's feet without a word.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 0048 GMT (0848 HKT)
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT)
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0804 GMT (1604 HKT)
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
Today's five most popular stories