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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More