2014-02-17 12:45:36

Italy's Renzi asked to form government

(Vatican Radio) Italy’s president, Giorgio Napolitano, asked Italian politician Matteo Renzi to form a government on Monday. The 39-year-old mayor of Florence will be Italy's youngest-ever Prime Minister.

The Democratic Party (PD) leader faces challenges in his first task: building a dynamic and harmonious coalition in the midst of political turmoil, not only across party lines, but within his own party as well.

The head of the international relations department at the American University of Rome and a long-time teacher and follower of Italian politics, James Walston told Vatican Radio the situation is one that used to occur more frequently before constitutional reforms some two decades ago. “The exceptional nature of this change of government is that it has all come from within the [ruling PD] political party,” he explained, adding, “this sort of thing used to happen long ago with the Christian Democrats, but it was a very different system, and what has happened now, over the past week, is the first time it’s happened in what the Italians call the 2nd Republic: the change of system that took place about 20 years ago.”

At this point in Italian political history, the leaders of the three major political groups are all outside parliament: the PD’s Renzi, Silvio Berlusconi of the centre-right Forza Italia party, and activist-comedian Beppe Grillo of the 5-Star Movement. “[This state of things] is exceptional,” said Walston, “and it certainly does indicate some sort of ‘sidelining’ of parliament and sidelining of some of the elected institutions,” which have usually controlled the political process in the country.
Also, Renzi’s Democratic Party does not command a reliable majority in both chambers of the Italian legislature. In order to be successful, Renzi will have to forge a coalition government with center-right and centrist parties. Then Renzi must win mandatory confidence votes in Parliament.

Listen to Chris Altieri's conversation with Prof. James Walston: RealAudioMP3

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