MATTEO Renzi, the 39-year-old mayor of Florence, was poised to be named Italy's youngest-ever prime minister this weekend after forcing Enrico Letta to resign in an internal party coup last week.
President Giorgio Napolitano was last night preparing to appoint Mr Renzi after a day of consultations with political leaders, including disgraced former prime minister and opposition leader Silvio Berlusconi.
Mr Napolitano held separate talks with leaders across the spectrum throughout the day at the Quirinale, the presidential palace, yesterday, in a bid to resolve the leadership vacuum "as quickly as possible" and "deliver an effective solution to the crisis".
Mr Renzi, secretary of the centre-left Democratic Party, would become the third unelected prime minister to lead the country in less than three years and he has already begun talks with the centre-right on forming a cabinet.
Democratic Party officials were due to meet Mr Napolitano – without Mr Renzi – late last night, the final step before the president asks Mr Renzi to form a government. A vote of confidence is likely to follow in parliament within days.
Mr Renzi, a former Wheel of Fortune winner known for his boyish charm and enthusiasm, did not attend the talks in Rome. He remained in Florence and briefly greeted the media with, "Hi guys, I'll see you later" as he arrived by car at the town hall, Palazzo Vecchio.