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Italy’s Renzi asked to form new government

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-02-17

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano asked centre-left leader Matteo Renzi (pictured) to form a new government on Monday, following former prime minister Enrico Letta’s resignation last week.

Renzi, who currently serves as the mayor of Florence and never served as an MP, was assigned the difficult task during a 90-minute meeting with Napolitano at the presidential palace in Rome.

Poised to become Italy’s youngest ever prime minister at the age of 39, Renzi now needs to reach a coalition deal with the country’s small, centre-right NCD party in order to ensure a governing majority. He also needs to name his cabinet before seeking a vote of confidence in parliament later this week.

Following the news that he had been asked to form a new government, Renzi said that he would begin official consultations within the next 24 hours.

He declined, however, to comment on the possible makeup of his cabinet.

Focus on unemployment

He did say that he planned to lay out full reforms to Italy’s electoral law and political institutions by the end of February, to be followed by labour reforms in March, an overhaul of the public administration in April and tax reform in May.

“I assured the president, the political forces and I’d say all Italians who are witnessing this government crisis that I [will] put all the courage, energy, and enthusiasm I can muster to deal with the most important emergency: that of the labour market,” he said.

Renzi’s remarkable rise comes just one week after he helped orchestrate a mutiny to oust Letta as premier, accusing him of failing to jumpstart Italy’s economy.

In the days that followed Letta’s sacking, Italy reported its first positive GDP in nearly three years.

In what is being viewed as a positive response to Renzi’s manifesto, Italy's borrowing costs dropped to their lowest rates for almost eight years and ten-year debt bonds fell to 3.64 percent.

A "palace coup"?

Opinion polls in Italy also show that Renzi is popular, mainly because, having never served in national government or parliament, he is seen as a breath of fresh air to Italy's discredited political system.

But surveys indicate that most Italians would have preferred early elections and are opposed to what critics have dismissed as a "palace coup" engineered by Renzi.

"Renzi committed an original sin, which is that he will become prime minister without an election," said Giovanni Orsina, deputy head of Rome's Luiss School of Government. "Now in order to make that original sin forgotten, he needs to govern very effectively."

Renzi could be sworn in as soon as Thursday, in what would be Italy's 65th government since World War Two.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-02-17

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