Rising star could take guidance of Italy
By The Associated Press
Published: Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, 6:03 p.m.
ROME — Abandoned by an ambitious party rival, Italian Premier Enrico Letta announced on Thursday he is resigning after losing essential support for his battered, 10-month-old coalition government.
Hours earlier, Matteo Renzi, the 39-year-old leader of Letta's Democratic Party, rallied party executives to an overwhelming vote for a change of command in the premier's office. The Florence mayor is a fast-rising star in Italy's political firmament and has been maneuvering for months to become an unusually young premier.
Renzi said it was time for ‘‘radical change” to pull economically stagnant and politically unstable Italy out of its “quagmire,” insisting that Italy needs more decisive leadership than Letta has offered.
Milan's market barely reacted to the development, and was down by barely 0.17 percent.
Even in a country known for its political tumult, the last several years have been bumpy. Renzi would be the fourth premier since late 2011, as the country scrambled to regain the confidence of skeptical markets with tough austerity measures.
Making no comment on his bitter defeat, Letta said he would formally hand in his resignation on Friday. He has defended his short tenure, insisting in a last-ditch pitch to fellow Democrats on Wednesday that Italy's economy has just started growing again, even if slowly.
President Giorgio Napolitano, who has staunchly opposed calling for new elections, could conceivably ask Letta to try to win a vote of renewed confidence in Parliament to make the legislature, and not the Democratic Party, the arbiter of the premier's fate. But without most of his Democrats, the largest party in Parliament, Letta's chances of commanding a legislative majority appeared doomed.
Napolitano would likely ask Renzi to try to form a coalition solid enough to command a working majority in Parliament that could quickly enact pressing electoral reform and measures to gain jobs, especially with youth unemployment hovering around 40 percent.
Those consultations will bring Silvio Berlusconi, the scandal-tainted former premier, back onto center-stage. Berlusconi's center-right Forza Italia party is Italy's second-largest party after the Democrats, and his lawmakers' backing will be crucial to Parliament's effectiveness.
Forza Italia said Berlusconi will lead his party's delegation to the presidential palace to confer with Napolitano.
Only last month, he made a deal with Renzi to back electoral reform. Both Renzi and Berlusconi are betting that overhauling the voting system so that the ballot box will yield clear winners, instead of the frequently fragmented coalitions it has so far.
Whether Renzi's power grab might alienate potential voters is a big unknown. Renzi told his party's executives he realizes there is a ‘‘risk he could be burned.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Western Pennsylvania engineer aboard missing Malaysia Airlines flight
- Ukrainian leader will meet Obama in U.S.
- Syrian rebels reportedly release nuns held since December
- Israel: Iranian shipment contained 40 rockets
- Ukrainian leader will meet Obama in U.S.
- Libya says its forces near oil tanker
- ‘Dead’ Mexican drug kingpin Moreno likely killed in shootout, official says
- Toronto mayor’s staff in dark on daylight saving
- Suicide car bomb, attacks kill at least 42 in Iraq
- Guardsmen in Caracas block food-shortage protest march