Photo by Alexandra Heffern/The Gazelle

Mayor of Florence Appointed to Be Prime Minister

FLORENCE — Matteo Renzi, the ex-mayor of Florence, was sworn into office as Italy's new prime minister on Feb. 22. This happened a week after Italy's ...

Feb 22, 2014

Photo by Alexandra Heffern/The Gazelle
FLORENCE — Matteo Renzi, the ex-mayor of Florence, was sworn into office as Italy's new prime minister on Feb. 22. This happened a week after Italy's then-Prime Minister Enrico Letta resigned.
Letta was formally requested to resign by his party, the Partito Democratico, after a PD meeting. There, Renzi, still acting as elected party leader and mayor of Florence, spoke of Italy's need for a change in leadership. After the meeting, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano asked Renzi to create a new government with the intention of appointing Renzi as Italy's next prime minister.
While Renzi was expected to announce his cabinet ministers on Saturday, Feb. 22, the announcement came a day early. The next step in the process was swearing Renzi into office, which was done early Saturday morning.
This pattern of rapid political change is not new to the country. Following the collapse of Mussolini's fascist rule and the country's reconstitution to a republic in 1946, Italy has had over 60 different governments .
With continuous political instability and economic turmoil, Renzi faces a series of obstacles. Highlighted by the Italian National Institute of Statistics, unemployment reached 12.8 percent in November 2013. Aside from rocky economics, there are also concerns regarding a democratic deficiency. Specifically, Renzi is the country’s third consecutive prime minister to be appointed rather than elected. Italy’s last election was in 2008 when billionaire Silvio Berlusconi took office. Resigning in 2011 during the European economic crisis, Berlusconi was replaced when President Napolitano selected technocrat Mario Monti. After divided elections in 2013, Napolitano chose Enrico Letta to lead a forced coalition government.
Despite the country’s obvious economic and political disorder, many remain hopeful. Italian political analyst and NYU professor Roberto D’Alimonte is one of these.
“He is energetic and willing to produce change,” said D’Alimonte of Renzi. “The first thing he [Renzi] did is he has kept his promise; he has changed the cabinet.”
This reference to Renzi’s selection of ministers comes in response to its historically unique composition. Half of Renzi’s choices for members of the cabinet are women and the overall average age is less than 48. Renzi, only 39 years old himself, is the youngest prime minister in Italian history.
NYU New York junior Kayla Malone, currently studying at NYU Florence, commented on Renzi’s age.
“There is stock in Renzi being the youngest prime minister in Italy’s history. Italy has been governed for so long by older men who are unwilling to change with the times.”
Examining both Renzi’s attitude and goals for change, Malone said, “Renzi seems to understand that certain reforms are needed within the Italian government and is not afraid to push them through.”
The final step in establishing Renzi’s new government comes this Monday, Feb. 24th, with a parliamentary confidence vote. Renzi has promised ambitious economic and electoral reform along with numerous other improvements. Within Italian media, Matteo Renzi has earned the nickname “Il Rottomatore,” meaning the demolisher.
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