Italy’s Matteo Renzi was nominated to be the European Union’s youngest prime minister and immediately outlined an ambitious reform plan, promising “energy, enthusiasm and commitment” to revitalise the eurozone’s third largest economy.
The 39-year-old mayor of Florence said his first priority would be to tackle unemployment levels and pitiful economic growth, promising Italians he would do everything possible to alleviate “despair”.
The head of the leftist Democratic Party has raised hopes in a country thirsting for change after ousting ex-premier Enrico Letta — a member of his own party whom he accused of failing to live up to reform pledges.
Renzi said he would begin formal coalition talks today and predicted they would take “a few days” as he negotiates to form a stable government that can survive until the next elections in 2018.
“We will take the time we need, with the knowledge there is a sense of urgency out there and this is an extremely delicate and important time,” he said after being given the mandate by President Giorgio Napolitano. “The most pressing emergency, which concerns my generation and others, is the emergency of labour, of unemployment and of despair.”
In the first test of his political prowess, the fresh-faced former boy scout will face a tough challenge in securing support, before facing a decisive confidence vote in parliament later this week.
The previous coalition of the Democratic Party, the centrists and the New Centre-Right party is expected to remain intact — even though the leader of the latter, Angelino Alfano, has warned this is “not a given”.
Renzi vowed that, if he succeeds, he will implement much-needed political and electoral reforms by the end of this month and overhaul the job market, education and the tax system in his first few months in power.
His nomination has left some analysts wondering whether he has the political maturity to succeed.
The web-savvy Renzi, who would be Italy’s youngest-ever prime minister, has no previous experience in national government or parliament and is seen by many as having the right outsider credentials for the job. But his critics warn he risks failing to pull together a credible coalition cabinet or burning out rapidly.
Many Italians 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.
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