The Latest: Renzi asked to stay on as caretaker PM

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Posted: Dec 07, 2016 2:11 PM
The Latest: Renzi asked to stay on as caretaker PM

ROME (AP) — The Latest on the political crisis in Italy (all times local):

8:00 p.m.

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi has resigned after a humiliating defeat on his reforms agenda that was central to his nearly three-year-long government.

President Sergio Mattarella asked him Wednesday evening to stay on in a caretaker role until a new government can be put in place.

A presidential aide, Ugo Zampetti, told reporters that Mattarella will start consultations late Thursday with various party leaders to see where support lies for a new government.

Renzi tried to resign on Monday, but Mattarella told him to stay on until Parliament gave final approval to the 2017 national budget legislation.

The Senate approved the budget earlier Wednesday.

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7:30 p.m.

Matteo Renzi has arrived at the Quirinal presidential palace in Rome to formally hand in his resignation as Italian premier.

Renzi tried to resign on Monday, but President Sergio Mattarella told him to stay on until Parliament gave final approval to the 2017 national budget legislation.

A few hours after the Senate did so, Renzi, who is also Democratic Party leader, returned to the palace Wednesday evening to formally resign.

Mattarella is expected to sound out other party leaders on what to do next. Several opposition forces are pressing for parliamentary elections ahead of their scheduled 2018 date.

Renzi decided to resign after voters Sunday resoundingly rejected government-backed constitutional reforms in a referendum.

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6:50 p.m.

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi, on the verge of resigning, says his Democratic Party doesn't fear elections if they're called soon, as some opposition parties demand.

Renzi addressed his bickering party Wednesday shortly before he was due at the Quirinal presidential palace to tender his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella.

Italy's youngest-ever premier, Renzi, 41, miscalculated that voters would approve reforms his center-left government championed. The constitutional reforms were defeated by voters in a referendum Sunday. Renzi kept his pledge that he'd step down if the referendum failed.

Renzi told the Democrats, Parliament's largest party, that his nearly three-year-old premiership gave Italians "fewer taxes and more rights."

He said Democrats "have no fear of anything or anybody if the others want" elections soon.

Mattarella will decide if early elections are warranted.

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3:45 p.m.

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi says he'll resign now that Parliament has completed approval of the 2017 national budget.

Renzi had offered his resignation two days earlier to President Sergio Mattarella following his humiliating defeat in a government-backed voter referendum on reforms.

But Mattarella told him to stay in office until passage of the budget law, which was done Wednesday afternoon.

Renzi tweeted that he plans to go to the president to resign at 7 p.m. (1800 GMT).

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3:35 p.m.

The Italian Senate on Wednesday has approved the 2017 state budget, a step required by the nation's president before he would accept Premier Matteo Renzi's resignation.

It was unclear when Renzi might return to the Quirinal presidential palace to formally resign following the rejection by voters of constitutional reforms he had championed.

On Monday, President Sergio Mattarella asked Renzi to stay in office at least until the critical budget legislation was approved.

The Senate voted 173-108 to pass the budget law, which was put to a confidence vote to speed up its passage.

A huddle was set for Wednesday evening among prominent members of Renzi's Democratic Party, which he leads and which is Parliament's largest party.

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8:50 a.m.

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi is opening his final days in office by meeting with his party members, as opposition leaders jockey for position following his resounding defeat in a weekend referendum.

Renzi will address his Democratic Party later Wednesday. The Senate, meanwhile, begins debating the 2017 budget, passage of which will trigger his official resignation.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella had asked Renzi to stay on until the crucial budget law clears before he begins consultations with political leaders on forming a government that can last until new elections are held. Those talks could start over the weekend.

Renzi sorely miscalculated in the runup to the Dec. 4 referendum on constitutional reforms, vowing to resign if it failed. In the end, 60 percent of voters cast "no" ballots.