Italy has announced that economist Mario Monti will serve as prime minister for the upcoming months, and possibly for a year or longer. Mr. Monti does not belong to a specific political party and was not directly elected by the public in general elections but rather was placed in the Senate as a "member for life" by Italian President Giorgio Napoletano on Nov. 9, with the expectation that he would serve in a governing capacity once Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi resigned.

At first glance, those outside this troubled country might think that this is yet another demonstration of Italian political trickery, but this particular play of cards may be what Italy needs to save its economy. This situation is somewhat similar to what happened in Italy in the mid-1990s, when a series of apolitical technocratic governments passed reforms to secure Italy's place in the European Monetary System.

Today, difficult and painful reforms are necessary, and any agreement among Italy's current politicians, assuming they could find one, would most likely be a watered-down version of what is actually necessary. Prime Minister Monti's technocratic government may be the best immediate solution to thwart economic crisis in Italy.

Carolyn Forestiere, Catonsville

The writer is associate professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.