Why Italy Abandoned Its Prime Minister in Favor of a New Government

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mt33/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mt33/

Matteo Renzi, an Italian politician, has been calling for the nation’s prime minister, Erico Letta, to step down — and now it would appear he’s getting his wish as the two have been locked in a fight for power for days. Letta has announced that he’ll be giving his resignation to Italy’s President, Giorgio Napolitano, Friday at the Quirinale palace — according to The Guardian. Renzi had also put a motion to the Partito Democratico (or, PD) national committee that asked for the government to be replaced for the sake of revamping the struggling economy through effective reform.

Renzi argued for the measure, and for Letta’s removal, by stating that Italy is a major economy but one that needs to start “a new phase,” one that, “Offer[s] a way out of the quagmire with a radical programme and profound change,” according to The Guardian. The vote came back with 136 in favor, two abstaining, and sixteen against the measure. Renzi had said that his intention was not to place Letta “on trial” but rather to point out “the necessity and urgency of opening a new phase with a new executive,” but it’s become clear that with Letta stepping down, the new executive he has in mind is likely himself.

Most expect that President Napolitano will ask Renzi to take over and create a new government, and that it’s likely to be done sans a vote. This is a move that Renzi defends as necessary, saying that with an election at this time, based on current electoral laws — which badly muddied up proceedings during the vote last year — it would be counterproductive. He insists that a government in place through 2018 would be more constructive. “This is not a matter of relay or a non-relay. A relay is when you go in the same direction and at the same speed, not when you try to change the speed,” said Renzi. “Today, we have a huge ambition, which is to think that Italy cannot exist for the coming months and coming years in a situation of uncertainty, instability, quagmire, [and] hesitation.”

There can be no question that the Italian economy is in need of help. With just under record levels of unemployment — 41 percent of youth population jobless — its hefty public debt rings in at $2.739 trillion. While Letta attempted to fight back against Renzi’s replacement rhetoric, releasing a reform plan for 2014 just prior to the PD’s vote, it was not enough. “Following the decisions taken today in the national committee of the Democratic party, I have informed the president, Giorgio Napolitano, of my desire to go to the Quirinale tomorrow to tender my resignation as prime minister,” he said late Thursday, according to The Guardian.

Despite the likely rise of Renzi to power, it’s been made clear by others in the political arena that his position isn’t full supported. According to The Guardian, Angelino Alfano, head of the New Centre Right party (or, NCD), made a statement to the press that without the correct offer of “political conditions,” they would “say no to the birth of a new government. We are not in love with the idea of a legislature lasting until 2018.”

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