Italy's Renzi close to naming new cabinet: source

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 21, 2014 5:22 AM

By Massimiliano Di Giorgio

ROME (Reuters) - Italian centre-left leader Matteo Renzi is close to naming the members of his government and is expected to meet President Giorgio Napolitano on Friday to confirm his cabinet list, a source in Renzi's Democratic Party (PD) said.

Confirmation of the list would allow the government to be sworn in by the weekend, ahead of a confidence vote in parliament expected on Monday.

Renzi, who forced out his party rival Enrico Letta last week after attacking the slow pace of economic reforms, is expected to govern with the same cross-party alliance as his predecessor but has not yet sealed a formal coalition accord.

He has sketched an ambitious agenda, promising to tackle electoral and constitutional reform, make the labor market and tax systems more efficient and overhaul the bloated public administration all within four months.

However as well as having to deal with the same unwieldy coalition which hampered Letta, he will also face questions about how he gained office, which could limit his ability to push through unpopular reform measures.

At 39, he would be Italy's youngest-ever prime minister, but he would also be the third in a row to gain office without winning an election and opinion polls suggest many Italians are concerned about the lack of a mandate from voters.

Much of the past week has been spent in consultations with other parties, in particular the small center-right NCD party whose support he will need for a majority in parliament.

A separate source in the PD said Renzi had met NCD leader Angelino Alfano overnight and appeared to have agreed on the future role for Alfano who served as deputy prime minister and interior minister under Letta.

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The source said Alfano would give up his position as deputy prime minister but would remain at the interior ministry.

However there was still uncertainty over who would fill the economy ministry portfolio, the key contact point with the European Central Bank and European Union partners and an important element in maintaining foreign investor confidence.

Media speculation on Friday focused on current incumbent Fabrizio Saccomanni, a former Bank of Italy official, or on Graziano Delrio, regional affairs minister in the Letta government and Renzi's right-hand man in the coalition discussions.

(Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)