Italy names new Prime Minister as Paolo Gentiloni

Ex-foreign minister is a supporter of outgoing Matteo Renzi

Jon Sharman
Sunday 11 December 2016 14:00
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Paolo Gentiloni has been named as Italy's new Prime Minister
Paolo Gentiloni has been named as Italy's new Prime Minister

Italy's new Prime Minister has been named as Paolo Gentiloni, the country's fifth premier in as many years.

Outgoing PM Matteo Renzi resigned after losing a referendum on plans to reform Italy's constitution.

Two years into his job as foreign minister, Mr Gentiloni was asked by President Sergio Mattarella on Sunday to form a new government, tasked with tackling much-need electoral reform and a seemingly unending crisis in the banking sector.

The left-wing former journalist will need to win confidence votes in parliament, expected this week, to take office and even after overcoming that hurdle, he might only survive a few months, with many political chiefs demanding elections as soon as a new electoral law is approved.

In October 2014, with virtually no international experience, he was unexpectedly handed the foreign affairs portfolio by Mr Renzi, whom he had supported in a 2012 battle to grab the leadership of the Democratic Party.

Fast forward two years, and Mr Renzi has once again pushed Mr Gentiloni forward after resigning from the premiership following a clear defeat in a December 4 referendum on constitutional reform.

As leader of the largest party in parliament, Mr Renzi had a decisive say in who should replace him, and will have to keep the new administration alive. Critics say he chose the low-key Mr Gentiloni to keep control from behind the scenes.

Alessandro Di Battista, a leader in the main opposition party, the 5-Star Movement, said of the new PM: "A cast-iron Renzi supporter with little charisma ... and above all expendable.

"He could be prime minister for a few months without endangering Renzi, who could prepare himself for a comeback."

Reuters

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