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Berlusconi, Tremonti row over new Italian Central Bank Governor

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti are locked in a row over the replacement for Central Bank chief Mario Draghi who is to head the ECB, news reports said yesterday.

“Arm wrestle over the Bank of Italy” read a headline in the influential business daily Il Sole 24 Ore, as Italy comes under heavy pressure from financial markets to put its public accounts in order and stave off a crisis.

Corriere della Sera said this was “the latest battle” between the two, who have reportedly been infighting for months. Some observers have predicted that Tremonti – seen by the markets as a key stabilising figure – could resign.

Newspapers reported that Berlusconi was backing Fabrizio Saccomanni, the current Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, for the top post, while Tremonti was backing Vittorio Grilli, who is the director of the Italian Treasury.

Draghi is due to start at the European Central Bank from November 1. Saccomanni’s nomination has strong support from within the Central Bank itself, while Grilli’s appointment could be seen as an attempt to weaken the bank’s independence.

Meanwhile, European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet yesterday told Corriere della Sera that the Italian economy has “immense” potential but needs structural reforms to boost growth.

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