The 46-year-old Letta will speak to Parliament on Monday, laying out his strategy to reduce joblessness while still sticking to the austerity measures needed to keep the eurozone's No. 3 economy from descending into a sovereign debt crisis. He will then face confidence votes needed to confirm his government.
Prosecutors identified the gunman as Luigi Preiti. Jobless, with a broken marriage and reportedly burdened by gambling debts he couldn't pay, Preiti had recently returned from Italy's affluent north, where he could no longer find work. He moved into his parents' home in Rosarno, a bleak Calabrian farm town where unemployment was already endemic before the last years of stagnation and recession sent youth unemployment soaring to nearly 40% nationwide.
His intended target was politicians, but with none in the square, he shot at the Carabinieri paramilitary police, Rome Prosecutor Pierfilippo Laviani told reporters, citing what he said Preiti told him when he questioned him.
Preiti, who was taken to the hospital for bruises, confessed to the shooting and didn't appear mentally unbalanced, Laviani said.
"He is a man full of problems, who lost his job, who lost everything," the prosecutor said. "He was desperate."
Mired in recession and suffering from soaring unemployment, Italy had been in political deadlock since an inconclusive February election. Social and political tensions have been running high among voters divided among a center-left bloc, conservative parties and an anti-establishment protest movement, which capitalized on public disgust with politicians to become Parliament's No. 3 force in its first national election bid.
The leader of the protest 5 Star Movement, comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo, has been criticized for inflammatory statements in the past, including saying during a campaign rally that the Parliament building could be a bombing target. He incessantly derides mainstream politicians as the root of Italy's ills.