39 Year Old Matteo Renzi becomes Youngest Italian Prime Minister

First Published by IANS on 17 Feb, 2014 at 07:16 PM IST under World

Rome: Matteo Renzi, the leader of Italy’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD) has been appointed as the country’s new prime minister today.

Renzi, the 39-year-old mayor of Florence, was summoned by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano at Quirinale presidential palace in the morning and given a mandate to try to form a new cabinet after the resignation of Enrico Letta as prime minister last week.

“I accepted the mandate President Napolitano has given me with reserve, and I will put all my energy and strength in the commitment of forming a new government that could last until the natural end of the parliamentary term and implement all necessary reforms,” Xinhua quoted Renzi as telling reporters.

“Today I will meet with the presidents of the Senate and the House of Chambers and then I will begin talks with political parties to strike a deal on the programme,” Renzi added.

“The new programme will require an urgent discussion on constitutional reforms to be carried out during February,” he said, adding that the government and parliament deal with the problem of unemployment in March and work on reforming the public administration and tax system between April and June.

Renzi is the youngest Italian prime minister so far.

Intense and swift consultations with political parties were carried out by President Napolitano Friday and Saturday in order to shorten the political uncertainty as much as possible.

It was widely expected that Renzi would be chosen for the role since he leads the largest party in parliament.

Renzi became prime minister after ousting Letta, who resigned Friday following a call of his own Democratic Party Thursday for a new administration and a more incisive implementation of reforms.

Letta was increasingly blamed by PD for the slow pace of his cabinet in dealing with the crisis. His younger rival Renzi said that the country had an urgent need to end “uncertainty” and pull out from the economic “swamp”.

Renzi also told reporters Monday that he would start meeting with possible allies Tuesday and would especially try to negotiate a deal with the small New Centre Right (NCD) party, which was part of the outgoing left-right coalition already.

NCD’s support is necessary for the PD to secure a majority in both chambers of the parliament. The party, which split from Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (FI) last year, said it was ready to back a government with Renzi provided that the programme bears clear center-right marks on certain issues such as family policies, tax, civil rights of gays and lesbians, and ethical topics.

Angelino Alfano, NCD’s leader, warned Renzi that an agreement was “not for granted” and said Sunday that “if NCD says no, the government will not be born”.

If negotiations succeed, the new cabinet will have to be sworn in at Quirinale presidential palace and then seek a confidence vote in parliament. According to local media, all these procedures would require until Saturday at latest.

Even before Renzi was officially appointed, speculations have been high about who would be in charge of the economy and finance ministry.

Lucrezia Reichlin, professor of economics at the London School of Business, and Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, a former member of the executive board of the European Central Bank, were among the possible candidates, according to local media.

Italy technically pulled out of its longest recession in 40 years after showing an unchanged gross domestic product in the third quarter of 2013. Its economy grew then by a small 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter.

The country managed to maintain its deficit under control for the third year in a row and saw improvement in its debt and public finances too.

Many families and businesses, however, still face economic hardship and unemployment rate remains at record levels.

Last Updated on February 17, 2014 at 7:29 PM IST


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