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

Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurd President Urges World Community to Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid