Renzi re­signs, hints at early elec­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Rome

Mat­teo Renzi bowed out as Ital­ian prime min­is­ter with a com­bi­na­tion of jokes, re­grets and a strong hint that he wants to lead his party into an early elec­tion battle.

Po­lit­i­cal con­sul­ta­tions on form­ing a care­taker govern­ment were set to be­gin on Thurs­day, af­ter Renzi for­mally sub­mit­ted his res­ig­na­tion to Pres­i­dent Ser­gio Mattarella fol­low­ing a crush­ing ref­er­en­dum de­feat.

Be­fore hand­ing back the keys to his Palazzo Chigi res­i­dence, the 41-year-old chaired a meet­ing of the ex­ec­u­tive of his Demo­cratic Party.

“We are not afraid of any­thing or any­body, if other par­ties want to go to the polls. ... The PD is not afraid of democ­racy or elec­tions,” Renzi said, in ref­er­ence to op­po­si­tion clamor for a na­tion­wide vote due in early 2018 to be brought for­ward by up to a year.

Iron­i­cally, Renzi’s rule came to an end with his govern­ment win­ning a vote of con­fi­dence in the Se­nate, the par­lia­men­tary cham­ber he tried to emas­cu­late with a ref­er­en­dum in which he suf­fered a crush­ing de­feat on Sun­day.

The con­fi­dence vote cur­tailed pro­longed dis­cus­sion on the ap­proval of Italy’s 2017 bud­get — an un­fin­ished task which had prompted Mattarella to ask Renzi to de­lay his de­par­ture for a few days.

“Bud­get law ap­proved. For­mal res­ig­na­tion at 7 pm. Thanks to ev­ery­one and viva l’Italia! (long live Italy!)” he tweeted. This be­ing Italy, 7 pm came and went, and Renzi had still not re­signed.

Later on Wed­nes­day, the Moody’s rat­ings agency down­graded its outlook for Italy’s sov­er­eign debt to neg­a­tive from sta­ble, say­ing the fail­ure of the con­sti­tu­tional ref­er­en­dum slowed re­form progress and left Italy more ex­posed to “un­fore­seen shocks”.

We are not afraid of any­thing or any­body, if other par­ties want to go to the polls.” Mat­teo Renzi, Ital­ian prime min­is­ter

Af­ter the talks at his party head­quar­ters, Renzi said he as­sumed full re­spon­si­bil­ity for the ref­er­en­dum but gave no in­di­ca­tion he was con­sid­er­ing step­ping down from the PD lead­er­ship.

Bet­ter luck at PlayStation

He said he would be spend­ing Thurs­day, a pub­lic hol­i­day, cel­e­brat­ing his grand­mother’s 86th birth­day. “We have to thank the el­derly,” he said in a ref­er­ence to pen­sion­ers sup­port­ing him in the ref­er­en­dum de­bate.

“And hope­fully to­mor­row I will have more luck in the PlayStation battle with my sons than I have had here,” he added.

As sec­re­tary-gen­eral, Renzi con­trols the party ap­pa­ra­tus, which he used to stage the coup that de­posed his pre­de­ces­sor En­rico Letta in Fe­bru­ary 2014.

Polls taken be­fore the ref­er­en­dum sug­gested that the PD re­mains well-placed to emerge from an elec­tion with the largest share of the vote, de­spite the up­ward trend in back­ing for the pop­ulist Five Star Move­ment.

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