WSJ: Pressure mounts for Italy's Monti

13 June 2012

Italy's return to the cross hairs of the eurozone debt crisis has ratcheted up pressure on Mr Monti to accelerate his turnaround of the country's economy.

Mr Monti has passed austerity measures including tax increases and an overhaul of Italy's pension system since taking office in November, garnering widespread praise from investors and world leaders.

In recent days, however, the aura surrounding Mr Monti has faded as investors and lawmakers at home take a hard look at unfinished items on the agenda—an overhaul of the labour market, cuts to government spending and plans to modernise the justice system.

The confluence of economic and market forces put Mr Monti on the defensive for the first time in his seven months in office. Mr Monti lashed back at an Austrian minister on Tuesday for questioning whether Italy might need financial assistance to ride out the crisis.

Some of Mr Monti's biggest challenges are at home, where Italians have begun to wonder whether their support for the technocrat leader is really paying off. Italy's deepening recession has poured cold water on supporters who portrayed Mr Monti as Italy's saviour. Italian Industry Minister, Corrado Passera, said the European Union bears some of the blame by not acting swiftly enough to stem the crisis.

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