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Florence mayor Matteo Renzi set to be Italian PM

The Italian President Georgio Napolitano is starting consultations on the formation of a new government following the resignation of Prime Minister Enrico Letta.

The 39-year-old mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, is widely expected to be offered the post.

Mr Letta was ousted in a vote called by Mr Renzi at a meeting of their centre-left Democratic Party on Thursday.

Mr Letta was under increasing pressure over Italy’s poor economic performance.

Continue reading the main story


image of David WilleyDavid WilleyBBC News, Rome

Matteo Renzi is a politician in a hurry. He personifies the frustration felt by many Italians at the apparent inability of his country’s leaders to deal with Italy’s rapid economic decline, which has led to the impoverishment of an ever growing number of families.

He is under 40, charismatic, smart and – in his own words – “hugely ambitious”. That is his strength. But he also has his weaknesses. He has so far had a career only in local politics in his native Florence, and lacks experience in Rome’s Byzantine political arena. He has never been elected to parliament and has no popular mandate.

According to opinion polls, most Italians would prefer him not to take over the reins of government. If he does succeed Mr Letta, he will inherit an uncomfortable and unwieldy coalition including both centre-left and centre-right parties.

After accepting the prime minister’s resignation, Mr Napolitano’s office said talks would begin with political leaders on finding a replacement.

The consultations would be conducted swiftly to find an “efficient solution” and they would conclude on Saturday, the statement added.

Mr Letta’s position became untenable once the Democratic Party backed a call for a new administration.

Mr Renzi had argued that a change of government was needed to end “uncertainty”.

A new government should take over until the end of the current parliamentary term in 2018, he said.

He accused Mr Letta of a lack of action on improving the economy, with unemployment at its highest level in 40 years and the economy shrinking by 9% in seven years.

Continue reading the main story

Italian governments

  • Italy has had 61 governments since 1946
  • Centre-right Christian Democrats dominated politics during Cold War
  • Matteo Renzi poised to become third prime minister since Silvio Berlusconi resigned in November 2011

The Italian prime minister failed to implement promised reforms of an often corrupt and wasteful bureaucracy coupled with a bloated parliament, says the BBC’s David Willey in Rome.

Youth unemployment has risen and Italians have grown increasingly impatient of the slow pace of reform and the continuing decline of families’ income and living standards.

Mr Letta, 47, formed a coalition with the centre-right last year.

Angelino Alfano, leader of a centre-right faction that has been part of Mr Letta’s government, gave a guarded welcome to Mr Renzi’s plans.

There was no guarantee that an attempt to form a new government under Mr Renzi would work, Mr Alfano said, adding he would not support a new administration whose policies were too left-wing.


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