PRESIDENT Giorgio Napolitano pledged yesterday to resolve Italy's latest political crisis "as quickly as possible" after Enrico Letta was forced to resign as prime minister when his party effectively dumped him.
President Napolitano's office released a statement that Mr Letta had resigned "irrevocably" and there was no need for a confidence vote in parliament.
"The president will hold consultations as quickly as possible with parliamentary groups to complete the next phase and deliver an effective solution to the crisis," the statement continued, expressing the 88-year-old president's concern about the country's "delicate economic situation" and the need for urgent reform.
Matteo Renzi, the 39-year-old leader of Mr Letta's centre-left Democratic Party, provoked the latest chaos with an emergency party meeting in Rome on Thursday, where he accused the prime minister of failing to pull the country out of the "quagmire" and called on him to step aside.
Party members overwhelmingly endorsed Mr Renzi's proposals and the prime minister realised he had no choice but to resign.
Mr Renzi, the mayor of Florence, is now poised to be appointed the country's third unelected prime minister in just over two years after receiving party backing for a "new phase" in Italian politics.
Concluding a dramatic 24 hours that left Italians reeling, Mr Letta (47) had a farewell toast with ministers at his final cabinet meeting at the Chigi Palace in Rome yesterday before driving himself to the presidential palace to hand his resignation to President Napolitano.
He tweeted his gratitude: "Thanks to all those who helped me" and implied that he was living in the moment as he added ambiguously: "Every day as if it was the last."Meanwhile, at a ceremony to mark St Valentine's Day in Florence, Mr Renzi greeted couples celebrating 50 years of marriage and relished his latest political manoeuvre. "For me it is delicate to say so but this is one of the most beautiful moments in the past five years," Mr Renzi said.
President Napolitano began talks with key parliamentary leaders late yesterday and consultations were expected to continue today about forming what will be the country's 69th government since World War II. Mr Letta was appointed prime minister 10 months ago. Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister forced out of the Senate after his tax fraud conviction was upheld last year, is expected to lead his centre-right Forza Italia in consultations and his support could be crucial. Mr Renzi has no national political experience" (© Daily Telegraph, London)