Paolo Gentiloni Replaces Renzi as Italy’s Prime Minister
Paolo Gentiloni, Italy’s foreign minister, will take over from Matteo Renzi as prime minister, leading a government that will need to rapidly address a looming banking crisis and continue relief efforts after a series of earthquakes.
Mr Gentiloni was summoned to an hour-long meeting on Sunday with Sergio Mattarella, Italy’s president, at the Quirinal palace in central Rome.
He emerged to announce he had accepted the mandate to try to form a new government and serve as prime minister, calling it a “high honour”.
Mr Gentiloni’s first task as prime minister is likely to be overseeing a rescue of troubled bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena (BMPS).
A state-funded salvage operation is seen as inevitable following the European Central Bank’s refusal on Friday to allow more time for a private bailout.
Mr Renzi, who had been in power for two years and 10 months, resigned on December 7 after voters rejected his proposed constitutional reforms by a large margin.
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Mr Renzi said he had returned home to Pontessieve, near Florence, with boxes of clothes, books and notes to his family to prepare for life as a regular citizen.
“I don’t have a parachute. I don’t have a parliament seat. I don’t have a salary,” Mr Renzi wrote on his Facebook page. “I am starting all over again, which is the way it should be.”
Mr Gentiloni is a staunch Renzi ally and pro-European who has called on willing EU states to work together on creating a joint permanent military force.
He spearheaded national unity government talks in Libya and is one of Italy’s most prominent figures on the global stage.
Mr Gentiloni will put his government to a parliamentary confidence vote on Wednesday.
If successful, he will represent Italy at Thursday’s European summit in Brussels.
Italy will also chair the G7 group of wealthy nations from January, and host a summit of European Union leaders in March to mark the 60th anniversary of the 1957 signing of the Treaty of Rome, an accord which led to the creation of the EU.
“Our country needs, in the briefest of times, a government in the fullness of its functions,” Mr Mattarella said after of three days of consultations last week.
Anti-establishment parties on the right and left reacted angrily to the choice of Mr Gentiloni, who is viewed as a symbol of continuity with the Renzi administration.
The far-right Northern League party pledged public protests starting next weekend, while Five Star Movement leaders denounced Mr Gentiloni as a mere Renzi “avatar” and said it would boycott Wednesday’s vote because the new government would have no legitimacy.
“This government is not even worthy of a vote against it,” said Giulia Grillo, head of the Five Star group in the Senate.
This story was first published December 11 in the Telegraph.