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article imageMatteo 'The Scrapper' Renzi to become Italy's PM

By Alessio Fratticcioli     Feb 17, 2014 in World
Rom - Italian Democrat Party leader Matteo Renzi is set to be nominated Italy's youngest-ever prime minister after President Giorgio Napolitano formally asked him on Monday to try form a new government.
Renzi, 39, who became leader of centre-left Democratic Party Partito Democratico (PD) last year, will now hold talks with other political parties on setting a government programme and a new cabinet.
If the negotiations are successful, Renzi and his ministers will be sworn in and the new government will face confidence votes in both houses of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate of the Republic.
Former Prime Minister Enrico Letta, also belonging to PD, stepped down on February 13, 2014 after just 10 tumultuous months at the head of a fractious coalition with center-right parties that struggled to cope with a rampant economic and social crisis.
Letta was forced to quit his post after his own party-backed leader Renzi in pushing for a new government to help Italy out of its economic crisis, AFP reported.
The possible new prime minister, who has been the Mayor of Florence since 2009, has a more aggressive and outspoken style than the highbrow, diplomatic Letta.
Renzi is sometimes called Il Rottamatore ("The Scrapper"), for his call to scrap the entire Italian political establishment, which is widely regarded by many as incompetent and corrupt.
Media-savvy Renzi is widely popular but has never been elected to parliament. Despite his lack of experience, the young politician will now have to show that he is able to deliver results with what is likely to be an alliance as fragile as Letta's.
Italy's growth and living standards have slipped in recent years, and reversing the trend appears to be a daunting task.
Outgoing Economy Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni warned Renzi Sunday that he should not underestimate the tremendous challenge ahead, ANSA reported.
"There is growing impatience in our country because people want fast results," Saccomanni said. "I agree with that, but the Italian economy is like a big oil tanker, you can't turn it around from one moment to the next, you need constant work."
"I think it's important to continue with what's been done and it is possible to accelerate," Saccomanni added. "But you have to be careful. When you change pace, the first effect is that you stop while you think about what pace to take."
In the last five years, Italy's gross domestic product has shrunk by about 7 percent and industrial output has fallen by about 25 percent. According to a report released Sunday, Italy lost around 134,000 small businesses between the start of the global economic crisis in 2008 and last year, ANSA reported.
"Italy is about to gamble," commented BBC's Gavin Hewitt.
"It is placing its bet on youth, on style, on energy. And on the unknown."
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