News / Europe

Italy's Renzi to Be Sworn in Saturday After Unveiling Cabinet

Italian Premier-designate Matteo Renzi meets reporters at the Quirinale presidential palace, Rome, Feb. 21, 2014.
Italian Premier-designate Matteo Renzi meets reporters at the Quirinale presidential palace, Rome, Feb. 21, 2014.
Reuters
Italian center-left leader Matteo Renzi promised on Friday to start work on reforms immediately, after he named a new cabinet and formally accepted the mandate to form an administration he said would stay in place until 2018.
 
He confirmed that OECD Chief Economist Pier Carlo Padoan, who was forced to hurry back from Australia, would take over at the economy ministry where he will play a central role in Renzi's bid to revitalize Italy's stagnant economy.
 
But there were few other big names in a 16-member cabinet dominated by relatively low-profile politicians with a sprinkling of non-political officials.
 
With a cabinet boasting no star names, the success or failure of the government will be down to the ambitious Renzi, who forced out party rival Enrico Letta last week after a stream of criticism over the slow pace of economic reforms.
 
At 39, he will be Italy's youngest prime minister and heads a cabinet made up mainly of ministers in their 40s and 50s, half of them women, continuing the rejuvenation of the elderly caste which used to run Italian politics.
 
Renzi, who became leader of the Democratic Party (PD) only in December, said his government would begin work immediately after being sworn in on Saturday.
 
“We're aiming to get started on things that need to be done from tomorrow morning,” he told reporters after a two-and-a-half hour meeting with President Giorgio Napolitano.
 
But he will have to govern with the same cross-party alliance that hampered his predecessor's efforts. Six of his ministers were part of Letta's cabinet, three of them from the small center-right NCD party on which his parliamentary majority depends, suggesting that he may have to tread cautiously at times to keep his coalition together.
 
Renzi, whose main experience in government has been as mayor of Florence, has sketched out ambitious plans for the eurozone's third-largest economy and said he aimed to stay in office until the end of the parliamentary term in four years' time.
 
Although he has provided few details, he has promised 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.
 
With a fractious parliament and many ministers having to learn how to handle a complex administration as they go, the challenge is considerable.
 
“There's a need to move quickly on reforms but people forget that to get reforms done in Italy requires very specific skills and there's no guarantee that a good economist makes a good economy minister,” said Alberto Mingardi, director general of the free-market think tank Istituto Bruno Leoni.
 
Unelected
 
Despite his reputation as a fresh force out to break up the old structures that have held Italy back, Renzi will also be the third prime minister in a row to reach office without winning an election and does not even have a seat in parliament.
 
Although Italy's constitution does not require a prime minister to win a national ballot, opinion polls suggest many Italians are concerned about the lack of a mandate from voters, and questions about how he gained office could limit his ability to push through unpopular reform measures.
 
The country is only just showing signs of emerging from its longest slump since World War Two, fighting to hold on to a crumbling industrial base and provide jobs for millions of unemployed, many of them young.
 
Renzi's room for maneuver will be tightly constrained by the need to control Italy's 2 trillion-euro public debt, with the euro zone still scarred by memories of the crisis in 2011 which nearly broke the single currency apart.
 
Padoan, a respected former International Monetary Fund official, will be the fourth technocrat in a row at the economy ministry, the key contact point with the European Central Bank and European Union partners and an important factor in maintaining foreign investor confidence.
 
As head of the OECD's economics department, Padoan has called for aggressive easing from the European Central Bank and was an early critic of tough budget cutbacks in the euro zone's weakest economies as they struggled with excessive debt.
 
In other notable changes to the cabinet, NCD leader Angelino Alfano kept his post as interior minister, but will no longer have the title of deputy prime minister after Renzi ruled out giving him a post that could challenge his own authority.
 
Foreign Minister Emma Bonino, a well-known figure outside Italy, leaves the government to be replaced by Federica Mogherini, a 40-year-old defense and foreign policy specialist in the PD.
 
A poll on Friday by the SWG polling institute posted a dip in support for the PD, to 29.9 percent from 32.2 percent a week earlier, while support for former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia rose to 21.8 percent from 20 percent.
 
The survey showed 27 percent saw Renzi as a leader capable of giving Italy a future, more than any other potential rival on the list. But that vote of support was still outscored by the 30 percent who picked “none”.

You May Like

Video VOA Exclusive: Poroshenko Wants Russia's UN Veto Stripped

Ukrainian president tells VOA's Myroslava Gongadze that global community would be safer if Russia's ability to play spoiler were ended More

Crime and Espionage Becoming Tangled Online

As the lines between cyber-crime and espionage blur, fighting hackers becomes harder More

Crowdfunding Helps Save Neil Armstrong's Spacesuit

Smithsonian turns to Kickstarter to raise more than $700,000 to help preserve the spacesuit worn by the first man to walk on the moon More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs