Letta Resigns; Meet Italy's New Unelected Prime Minister
Matteo Renzi's Democratic Party has voted to back his proposal fore a new government... and Prime Minister Letta has resigned.
- *DEMOCRATIC PARTY VOTES IN FAVOR OF RENZI PROPOSAL FOR NEW GOVT
- *ITALY PREMIER LETTA SAYS HE WILL RESIGN
This will bring the 65th government in Italy since World War II and the 3rd consecutive government that would not have been elected (the last elected Prime Minister was Berlusconi in 2008).
Renzi's speech in preparation for the vote was farcical and confused:
- *RENZI SAYS ITALY CANNOT CONTINUE TO LIVE IN UNCERTAINTY
- *RENZI SAYS ITALY NEEDS TO EXIT SWAMP, NEEDS CHANGE (but same coalition parties)
- *RENZI SAYS NEW ELECTIONS WOULDN'T GUARANTEE CLEAR MAJORITY
- *RENZI SAYS THIS IS TIME TO BE RESPONSIBLE, TAKE RISKS
While Letta had his "57-page plan" of reforms, Renzi does not differ greatly (and thus there will be no change) as the confrontation hinges on who is better placed to implement them. Markets are rallying on the news.
Mr. Renzi's own proposals don't contrast with those of Mr. Letta. The confrontation hinges on which of the two are better placed to implement their plans.
Ten months ago [Letta] gave his government—Italy's first left-right coalition since the late 1940s—18 months to carry out an ambitious program including constitutional reform, a new electoral law and measures aimed at bolstering what has been the euro zone's weakest economy since 2000. Progress has been slow and, as Mr. Letta lamented on Wednesday, many laws have been passed but their enactment decrees never promulgated.
"We would regard a Renzi premiership as a positive development for Italy, possibly imparting a new drive to the reform agenda," Citigroup C -0.90% analysts said in a note.
On the other hand, he risks having to operate within the current parliament without a clear electoral mandate, which could compromise both his influence and his image as a novelty in Italian politics, said J.P. Morgan analyst Alex White.
Italy's last elected prime minister was Silvio Berlusconi, who won an ample majority in the 2008 elections.
Meet the new unelected PM of Italy (via BBC),
Matteo Renzi, the charismatic young mayor of Florence, was elected last December as leader of Italy's most powerful political organisation, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) - the dominant faction in the current coalition government.
Matteo Renzi is just 39 years old and has never been a member of parliament. Now he has called publicly for a new government, directly challenging Prime Minister and party rival Enrico Letta.
The young party leader is sometimes called Il Rottamatore ("The Scrapper"). The nickname refers to his call to scrap the entire Italian political establishment, which is widely regarded as discredited, tainted by corruption, and as having failed the nation decade after decade.
His rise has been seen as a sign of much-needed generational change, and he enjoys by far the highest approval rating of any politician in the country. He is in his own words "hugely ambitious".
Mr Renzi presents himself as a break with the past in every way, BBC Rome correspondent Alan Johnston reports.
He exudes a restless energy. He likes to pace the stage in black jeans and attends meetings in shirt sleeves. He travels around either in a small car or on a bicycle.
He is relaxed and easy - fast and fluent as he speaks without notes, ranging across Italy's many problems, and offering broad-brush solutions.
He always seeks to instil a belief that politics can be done differently, that change is possible.
He once finished a televised debate by saying he would offer something very rare in Italy: "Hope."
"People are weary and disillusioned," he said. "They don't believe anymore. I believe, and that's why I do politics - because I still believe."
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