Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi says he is forming his third government to serve until the end of the legislature in 2006. He hopes that he will have obtained a vote of confidence for his new team in both houses of the parliament by the end of this week.

Berlusconi resigned after a serious set back in regional elections in April. He was asked by Italys president Carlo Azeglio to form a new government and the following day Berlusconi presented his new team. With four ministers returning to the government, Giulio Tremonti, Gianfranco Fini, Rocco Buttiglione and Claudio Scajola, the centre-left opposition has called this a photocopy of previous Berlusconi coalitions. It is also the largest government since the end of world war two, with 99 members between ministers, vice ministers and under-secretaries. The previous largest government was in 1991 under the premiership of Giulio Andeotti.