Italy for­eign min­is­ter tapped as next pre­mier

Fac­ing trou­bled banks, poor eco­nomic growth

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD - BY FRANCES D’EMILIO

ROME | Ital­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Paolo Gen­tiloni was tapped Sun­day to form a new, Demo­crat-led gov­ern­ment and end a po­lit­i­cal cri­sis so the coun­try can quickly tackle press­ing prob­lems, which in­clude trou­bled banks, an econ­omy re­sist­ing growth and an elec­toral re­form aimed at fi­nally mak­ing the na­tion more gov­ern­able.

“I’m aware of the ur­gency to give Italy a gov­ern­ment in the full­ness of its pow­ers, to re­as­sure the cit­i­zens and to face with ut­most com­mit­ment and de­ter­mi­na­tion in­ter­na­tional, eco­nomic and so­cial pri­or­i­ties,” the 62-year-old Mr. Gen­tiloni said.

If he suc­ceeds in cob­bling to­gether a Cab­i­net with suf­fi­cient sup­port in Par­lia­ment, Mr. Gen­tiloni will re­place fel­low Demo­crat Mat­teo Renzi in the pre­mier­ship. Mr. Renzi has been act­ing in a care­taker role as pre­mier since he quit on Dec. 7 af­ter his nearly three­year-old gov­ern­ment suf­fered a sting­ing de­feat in a ref­er­en­dum on re­forms he had staked his job on.

Mr. Gen­tiloni didn’t say when he would re­port back to Pres­i­dent Ser­gio Mattarella on progress in cob­bling to­gether a Cab­i­net, in­clud­ing his own re­place­ment as for­eign min­is­ter.

If he suc­ceeds, the gov­ern­ment will be sworn in, and then Mr. Gen­tiloni, as pre­mier, would ask Par­lia­ment for the re­quired con­fi­dence vote. Econ­omy Min­is­ter Pier Carlo Padoan is widely ex­pected to stay on, es­pe­cially in the mid­dle of the bank­ing cri­sis.

If no snags de­velop, Mr. Gen­tiloni could be sworn in early this week.

“We’re get­ting down to work,” Mr. Renzi told re­porters.

The pop­ulist 5-Star Move­ment and other op­po­si­tion forces have been clam­or­ing for an early elec­tion. But Mr. Mattarella, in weigh­ing who should re­place Mr. Renzi, pointed out the cen­ter-left gov­ern­ment still com­mands a ma­jor­ity in Par­lia­ment.

Af­ter Mr. Mattarella gave the nod to Mr. Gen­tiloni at the Quiri­nal pres­i­den­tial palace, op­po­si­tion groups, in­clud­ing the pop­ulist 5-Star Move­ment, stepped up de­mands for elec­tions soon, since Ital­ians re­sound­ingly re­jected Mr. Renzi’s re­form agenda in the Dec. 4 bal­lot ref­er­en­dum.

“The peo­ple feel as if they’ve been taken for a ride, and want to vote who will de­cide their lives,” said a 5-Star law­maker, Laura Castelli in a Face­book post that pro­moted the Move­ment’s “elec­tions im­me­di­ately” hash­tag.

Mr. Renzi be­came Italy’s youngest-ever pre­mier in Fe­bru­ary 2014 when he was 39. He still leads the Demo­cratic Party, al­though is ex­pected to face in­ter­nal party chal­lenges should he bid for a re­turn to the pre­mier­ship when elec­tions are even­tu­ally sched­uled.

Dur­ing his party lead­er­ship, Mr. Renzi, who leans to­ward the po­lit­i­cal cen­ter, saw de­fec­tions, es­pe­cially from Democrats with a past in the for­mer Com­mu­nist Party.

One de­fec­tor, Ste­fano Fassina, of the small Demo­cratic Left party, la­beled the next gov­ern­ment a “Renzi-encore” and pushed for ‘’elec­tions as soon as pos­si­ble.”


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