ROME: Italy’s president may ask young center-left leader Matteo Renzi to become its youngest ever prime minister this weekend after a party coup that forced Enrico Letta to resign as premier of the euro zone state struggling to pull out of recession.
Letta bowed out on Friday after the leadership of his Democratic Party (PD) forced him to step aside and make way for Renzi, 39, who is promising bold economic reforms and a government than can survive until 2018.
President Giorgio Napolitano expects to complete a round of consultations with parties in the evening and could summon Renzi, the PD secretary and current mayor of Florence, soon afterwards to form a government, sources in the party said.
After receiving a mandate from the president, Renzi will have to strike an accord with the small New Center Right party, whose support the PD needs to command a majority in the Parliament of the euro zone’s third-largest economy.
The party, which split from scandal-plagued tycoon and ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi last year, has ruled out liberal social policies that Renzi has advocated, including gay civil unions, and wants a clear center-right stamp on the government.
Renzi, whose PD is the largest party in Parliament, would become the youngest leader in Italy’s 163-year history as a united country, younger even — by two months — than Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini was when he took over in 1922.
But before Renzi can stake his claim on history and attempt to install Italy’s 65th government since World War Two, he must overcome institutional rituals and much wheeling-and-dealing, a process likely to take several days.
The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and the pro-devolution Northern League, both opposition groups, have abandoned the talks, saying they are an empty ritual whose outcome is already written.
But Berlusconi, the center-right leader who was booted out of Parliament last year after a conviction for tax fraud, was to accompany leaders of his Forza Italia party to meet the head of state in the afternoon.
After striking a deal with parliamentary allies, Renzi must name the members of his Cabinet, swear them in, and then seek confidence votes in both houses of Parliament.
He would become the third prime minister in a row nominated by Napolitano without having won an election. Letta was chosen to helm a right-left government after last year’s deadlocked election, and Mario Monti took over for Berlusconi during a burgeoning euro zone debt crisis in 2011.
“If they think that this is democracy, we don’t agree,” said Vito Crimi, a leading member of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement in the Senate.