Friday 23 August 2019

New prime minister's priority is to make Italy more governable

Italian Prime Minister-designate Paolo Gentiloni addresses the media at a meeting in Rome yesterday. Photo: Reuters
Italian Prime Minister-designate Paolo Gentiloni addresses the media at a meeting in Rome yesterday. Photo: Reuters

Frances D'Emilio Rome

Italian Premier-designate Paolo Gentiloni succeeded in forming a new government yesterday, keeping key ministers from the coalition of fellow Democrat Matteo Renzi, who resigned last week.

Mr Gentiloni said he would keep economist Pier Carlo Padoan as finance minister and continue Mr Renzi's strategy of trying to get Italy's flat economy growing again. Also staying in government, but switching cabinet posts, is Angelino Alfano, who will take Mr Gentiloni's foreign minister's post.

In the outgoing government, Mr Alfano was Mr Renzi's key non-Democrat coalition ally, dealing with anti-terrorism and migrant measures as interior minister.

A swearing-in ceremony was set for last night for both Mr Gentiloni as prime minister and his new cabinet.

Starting today, Mr Gentiloni will begin pitching to lawmakers for the required confidence vote from parliament on new governments.

"I did my best to form a government in the briefest of time," Mr Gentiloni told reporters at the Quirinal presidential palace.

On Sunday, President Sergio Matarella asked Mr Gentiloni to try to assemble a government that would prioritise electoral reform laws aimed at making Italy more governable ahead of new elections many political leaders are demanding soon.

Mr Renzi left the helm of a nearly three-year long centre-left coalition government, after voters defeated a December 4 constitutional referendum on which he had staked his job. Since then, populist forces, including parliament's largest opposition group, the Five Star Movement, have been pressing for elections to be held far ahead of their spring 2018 due date.

Mr Gentiloni said electoral reform would be a priority of his government. Other priorities include efforts to help "the middle class, those suffering" economically, especially "in the south where (lack of) work is a greater-than-ever emergency", Mr Gentiloni said.

Youth unemployment is running at 36pc, and as high as 50pc in southern Italy.

Mr Gentiloni's picks for his cabinet reflect his fellow Democrats' concern that Mr Renzi did poorly in Italy's south in the recent referendum. The new premier chose a minister for the south, and his new minister for parliamentary matters hails from Sicily.

With the Gentiloni government largely resembling Mr Renzi's, opposition leaders will likely be energised in galvanising citizen protest. Matteo Salvini, who heads the anti-migrant Northern League, said he would hit the public squares in Palermo and Milan this weekend seeking signatures to "ask for elections immediately".

Electoral laws - amended several times in recent years - are blamed for making it harder for a clear majority to emerge from elections.

Irish Independent

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