Italy gets new environment minister

Greens nearly bring down new government after losing environment ministry to centre-left party

Italy has a new environment minister, part of a change of government sparked by the collapse of the previous administration following disappointing local election results. Willer Bordon, who founded the small Democratic Alliance centre-left party in 1992, takes over from Edo Ronchi, a Green.

First announced last week, the new centre-left coalition government of Giuliano Amato replaces a similar grouping of parties. Its successful launch was narrowly confirmed by the lower parliamentary house on Friday evening, having looked in doubt until the last minute, in part because of protests by Mr Ronchi against his party losing control of the environment ministry. The change means there are now four Green party environment ministers in EU countries rather than five.

Born in 1949, Mr Bordon was mayor of the town of Muggia near Trieste for 11 years and has been a member of the Italian parliament since 1987. He was minister for public works in 1998-99 having been a junior minister with responsibility for cultural affairs.

Negotiations over the shape of the new government were thrown into chaos within hours of its draft announcement on Tuesday when Mr Ronchi refused to take the post of minister for European affairs offered to him. In an interview with La Repubblica newspaper, Mr Ronchi said the new government should not go back on the environmental progress made by its predecessor. "Surely we have to live up to our commitments on the carbon tax and the Kyoto protocol," he told La Repubblica. "We need to go ahead with ecological taxation and giving more power to the environment ministry," he added.

The Green party split over the issue, with former official spokesman Luigi Manconi attacking the new leader, Grazia Francescato, for failing to secure the environment ministry. On Thursday, the party decided to support the government after a five-hour meeting, in part because it has won the agriculture ministry with the appointment of Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio as minister.

Follow Up:
Italian government, and biography of Willer Bordon; Italian Green party, tel: +39 06 42 03 06 17.

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