ATHENS, Greece – Italy swore in a new Cabinet and Greece’s recently anointed prime minister won an important vote of confidence Wednesday as both countries scrambled to avoid an economic disaster that could torpedo the Eurozone.

The two nations are pinning their hopes on unelected, technocratic leaders tasked with bringing down staggering levels of government debt and restoring investor confidence in their badly battered economies. Failure by either country could spell doom for the euro, the currency they share with 15 other European nations.

In a solemn ceremony in Rome, former European Union official Mario Monti, a trained economist, took the oath of office as prime minister, alongside the team he has assembled to help him rescue the Eurozone’s third-largest economy.

In Athens, another unelected leader, Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, won a ringing endorsement from parliament Wednesday after being picked last week to head a government of national unity to tide Greece over for at least the next few months.

 

At the center of Europe’s raging debt crisis, Greece is struggling to stay afloat by accepting emergency loans from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in exchange for implementing austerity measures that have set off a wave of public resistance and shrunk the economy drastically.

 

Papademos, 64, a former central bank governor who guided Greece’s entry into the Eurozone, has committed himself to enacting a complex bailout plan crafted by European leaders last month that calls for yet more spending cuts as well as a 50 percent write-down of the value of privately held Greek debt.

 

“The task that this government assumes is titanic,” Papademos told lawmakers moments before the confidence vote. “Every single vote cast in favor is an act of responsibility, one that will not endanger the country’s future in the Eurozone.”

 

He warned that there would be “no magical solutions” to Greece’s financial crisis and that “the road to fiscal recovery will be rough.”

 

Still, he won the support of 255 lawmakers in Greece’s 300-seat parliament. Papademos succeeds George Papandreou, who quit the prime minister’s post amid intense political turmoil sparked by his since-revoked decision to put the likely unpopular European bailout plan to a referendum.

 

Papademos’ power-sharing government is composed of leaders from the Socialist party, the conservative New Democracy party and a small far-right group. But cracks in the coalition have already emerged.

 

Eurozone leaders want written assurances from the three coalition partners that they will do whatever is necessary to make the new bailout plan work. Without that, they warn, they will block disbursal of $11 billion in rescue funds which Greece needs to avoid bankruptcy by mid-December.

 

On Wednesday, New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras reiterated his refusal to provide a written assurance, saying details of the European loan agreement had yet to be worked out and that further austerity measures would kill any prospects of growth.

 

“Is there any other country in Europe heading into a fifth year of recession?” he said. “We don’t disagree with the goals of this fiscal adjustment plan, but the policy mix prescribed must change.”

 

As for ordinary Greeks, the first sign of whether or not they accept their new government could come Thursday when thousands of people are expected to take to Athens’ streets for a commemorative march against Greece’s military-ruled past. Authorities have mobilized more than 5,000 police officers from across the country to head off any violence.