ITALY’S youngest prime minister has been sworn in – and is expected to move quickly to help the country emerge from a prolonged period in the economic doldrums.
Matteo Renzi, 39, was sworn in yesterday in what many hope will herald a new dawn for a nation suffering from years of economic hurt and fractured politics.
There were immediate signs of reform from the new broom – who has risen quickly to power – despite him having never been elected to parliament or served in a national government.
The former mayor of Florence – nicknamed the Demolition Man for his no-nonsense approach to politics – has appointed a decidedly young looking Cabinet.
There are as many women ministers as men in the Alfa-Romeo-driving leader’s line-up. And, with an average age of under 48, the 16-member Cabinet is one of the smallest and youngest in recent Italian history.
The government will have to win a vote of confidence in parliament, expected tomorrow, before it starts work officially.
However, announcing his team, he said: “It’s a government that will start to work from tomorrow morning.”
The swearing-in ceremony took place in the ornate presidential palace in Rome.
The new prime minister and his Cabinet took the oath of office from President Giorgio Napolitano.
Renzi ousted prime minister and party colleague Enrico Letta, who had led Italy for just ten months, in a vote at a party meeting on 13 February.
Renzi argued that a change of government was needed to end “uncertainty”.
He had accused Letta of a lack of action on improving the economic situation, with unemployment at its highest level in 40 years and the economy shrinking by nine per cent in seven years.
The Democratic Party leader also vowed to cure Italy’s chronic political instability with electoral reforms aimed at making the country more governable.
But he faces a huge challenge with the eurozone’s third largest economy struggling to emerge from its worst slump since the Second World War, weighed down by a ¤2 trillion euro public debt.