Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi says he will resign after his reforms are defeated in a referendum.
In the end, Matteo Renzi’s fall was even quicker than his remarkably rapid rise to the summit of Italian politics.
Hours after suffering a crushing defeat in a referendum on constitutional reform on Sunday, the center-left prime minister announced on Monday that he would quit.
Elections were scheduled for spring 2018, but Renzi’s resignation could prompt their being moved up a year.
Italy’s youngest leader, he was just 39 when he took office in February 2014 via an internal coup in his Democratic Party.
“Enrico stai sereno (Enrico be calm),” he reassured thenprime minister Enrico Letta in a now infamous tweet, just before using his control of the party machine to oust him.
In only three months, Renzi had gone from the relative obscurity of the mayor’s office in Florence to running the country.
The manner of his rise earned him a reputation as a ruthless schemer. But it did not prevent him securing impressive approval ratings.
With memories of Silvio Berlusconi’s years in power still fresh, Italians seemed to buy into the energetic newcomer’s promises of rapid reform in all walks of life.
His optimistic agenda of change echoed the tone of US President Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can” campaign to win the US presidency and Renzi styled himself as an outsider bent on shaking up Italy’s political establishment and the country.
He lived up to that label in some ways: Leaving his school- teacher wife Agnese and three children at the family home in Tuscany while he worked late into the night in his Rome office, eschewing the nocturnal charms of the Eternal City.
Dinner with Obama
But he was soon to find himself fending off claims that he was just another insider politician, taking the blame for longstanding problems he could never fix quickly enough.
After 1,000 days in office, Renzi was able to boast last month that he had steered the economy out of recession, got Italians spending again and improved the country’s battered public finances.
He also enjoyed significant political victories: A controversial Jobs Act was passed and a new electoral law was adopted, albeit one that is now in the process of being revised.
All were seen as evidence of a deft political touch and Renzi’s progress was noted outside Italy. “Matteo has the right approach and it is beginning to show results,” Obama said before treating the Renzis to the last official White House dinner of his administration.
But his bullish style came to be seen as tainted by arrogance, including by some slighted grandees of his own party.
Supporters of the “No” faction for a referendum in front of Chigi palace in Rome, Italy, on Monday.