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Italy experiments with a new prime minister and 16-member cabinet

Monday, February 24th 2014 - 06:45 UTC
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Renzi, who won the leadership of the center-left Democratic Party only in December Renzi, who won the leadership of the center-left Democratic Party only in December

Center-left leader Matteo Renzi took office on Saturday as Italy's youngest prime minister, facing pressure to show immediate results after he forced out his predecessor over the slow pace of economic reforms.

 The 39-year-old Renzi has named a low-profile list of ministers which included no figures capable of challenging his control of the government. Its success or failure will be seen as his responsibility alone.

With an average age of under 48, the 16-member cabinet is one of the smallest and youngest in recent Italian history. Half its members are women, the largest proportion ever, underlining the image of a fresh start on which Renzi has built his reputation.

But he faces a huge challenge with the Euro zone's third largest economy struggling to emerge from its worst slump since World War Two, weighed down by a 2 trillion Euro public debt and an industrial base that has crumbled over the past decade.

“The responsibility is enormous and this must not fail,” said Rocco Palombella, secretary general of the UILM union. “If it does, there will be no appeal,” he said.

The new prime minister has laid out an ambitious agenda for his first months in office, promising a sweeping overhaul of the electoral and constitutional system to give Italy more stable governments in future and reforms to the labor and tax systems and the bloated public administration.

Renzi, who won the leadership of the center-left Democratic Party only in December, forced his party rival Enrico Letta to resign last week after criticizing his failure to move quickly on economic reforms.

The oldest member of the cabinet, 64-year-old Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan, will play a key role in maintaining the confidence of partners ranging from the European Central Bank to foreign investors.

The other main economic ministers, Industry Minister Federica Guidi, a former official at employers' association Confindustria, and Labor Minister Giuliano Poletti, former head of the cooperative association Legacoop, will face pressure on industrial policy.

Among the new government's priorities will be cutting taxes on business and easing strict labor market rules that deter employers from taking on new staff, but in both cases it will be bound by tight constraints.

Categories: Politics, International.

Top Comments

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  • ChrisR

    Two countries in one.

    The North, hard working (for Italians) and making money: the South, lovely people but do not know the phrase “hard work” unless it is for the graft.

    This guy wants to drive a Ferrari Italy and what he has inherited is a Topolino.

    Feb 24th, 2014 - 10:33 am 0
  • Conqueror

    Quite amazing really. Italy is still “experimenting”. Supposedly “democratic” since 1946. By 2008, Italy had had 62 governments. Strangely, in the days of the Roman Empire, things didn't change quite so much. Maybe Italians are in regression. As time passes, they get less intelligent. They are, after all, latins. Rome managed to conquer, occupy and govern virtually the whole of the known world. Italy can't even govern itself. Seems like latinos can't manage the long haul. In fact, it's hard to find anywhere in Europe that has managed the long haul. Except Britain. Looking at today's Europe, half of France used to belong to Britain. Most of Spain was owned by the Moors. Italy was composed of internecine city states. Germany hadn't united. Belgium didn't exist. Only one conclusion. No post-Roman latino stands a chance.

    Feb 24th, 2014 - 12:30 pm 0
  • paulcedron

    “ the South, lovely people but do not know the phrase “hard work” unless it is for the graft.”

    it could be a good description of the islanders and some bootlicking uruguayans, except for the word “lovely”.

    Feb 24th, 2014 - 10:53 pm 0
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