AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Published — Tuesday 18 February 2014
Last update 20 May 2014 7:16 pm
ROME: Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi on Monday became Italy’s youngest-ever prime minister after a daring power grab, kicking off a new era in a country thirsting for economic and political reform.
The 39-year-old head of the leftist Democratic Party arrived at the presidential palace in Rome, where he received the nomination to become the nation’s next premier.
Renzi’s ouster of his predecessor Enrico Letta — a member of his own party whom he accused of failing to live up to reform pledges in his stormy 10 months in government — has been welcomed by investors but left analysts wondering whether he has the political maturity to succeed.
The baby-faced former Boy Scout will have to move quickly to form a new government.
“He desperately needs figures of excellence in the Cabinet, new ones if possible,” editorialist Gian Antonio Stella wrote in the best-selling Corriere della Sera daily.
The previous coalition of the Democratic Party, the centrists and the New Center-Right party is expected to remain intact even though the leader of the latter, Angelino Alfano, has warned this is “not a given.”
“Speed is part of Renzi’s personality” but “the creation of such a team is no easy task,” political watcher Federico Geremicca said in La Stampa, while the Corriere said the future PM may have underestimated “the nature and complexity of the problems to be resolved.”
Renzi will attempt to form a government — after which he will have to return to Napolitano for his nomination to be confirmed before being sworn into office.
Analysts say the whole process could take a few days.
The energetic and web-savvy Renzi has no previous experience in national government or Parliament and is seen by many as having the right kind of outsider credentials for the job.
But his critics warn he risks failing to pull together a fresh, credible cross-coalition Cabinet or burning out rapidly.
“The Matteo Renzi era begins today. Whether it will be long or fleeting, destined to change Italy or end up a mere a power play, we cannot know,” political analyst Stefano Folli wrote in Italy’s Il Sole 24 Ore financial daily.
Many people seem willing to give him the benefit of the doubt even though they would have preferred early elections, as long as Renzi delivers on his promises to combat rampant unemployment and boost growth.