Renzi will be Italy's youngest premier

AP News
Posted: Feb 21, 2014 6:29 PM

ROME (AP) — Matteo Renzi will be sworn in as Italy's youngest prime minister ever Saturday after he cobbled together a government he says will change the face of the country's politics and economy.

Renzi, the 39-year-old leader of the center-left Democratic Party, unveiled his government Friday and said the broad coalition will bring hope to the economically stagnant country.

After formally accepting the mandate to form the government, Renzi said he will waste no time in enacting reform.

"We aim tomorrow morning to immediately do the things that need to get done," he said.

Renzi had been serving as Florence mayor when he engineered a power grab last week to effectively force fellow Democrat, Enrico Letta, to step down after 10 months at the helm of a fragile, often-squabbling coalition.

However, he is depending on the same coalition partners and hopes that the government will last through to the end of the current parliament in 2018.

His Democrats will remain the biggest party, propped up by two smaller groupings — supporters of former premier Mario Monti and former loyalists of center-right leader Silvio Berlusconi.

Renzi recently cut a deal with Berlusconi, who has been kept out of office by a tax fraud conviction, to work swiftly for parliamentary passage of electoral reforms.

In a key development, Renzi's economy minister will be Pier Carlo Padoan, the well-respected chief economist of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an international think-tank of leading economies.

Renzi will be the third straight premier to come to office without being elected; the last premier who stood for election was the scandal-tainted Berlusconi in 2008. The aim of the political reforms is to give Italy a clear winner at the ballot box.

The new premier's heavily political cabinet is a further shift away from the "technocrat" cabinet Monti formed in late 2011 after international markets lost faith in Berlusconi's ability to get a grip on the public finances and keep the country in the euro currency bloc.

Letta was thrust aside by the brash, ambitious Renzi just as Italy began to show signs of growth and bond market investors appeared less concerned over the country's ability to repay its debts.


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