Just two months into his leadership of Italy’s main center-left party, the Partito Democratico (PD, Democratic Party), Florence mayor Matteo Renzi has found a way to balance his criticism of prime minister Enrico Letta’s government against the notion that he’s working against Letta, a former deputy leader of his own party.
He’s decided that it will simply be easier to lead Italy’s government himself — and the past four saves have played out dramatically as Renzi engineered the collapse of Letta’s government.
Initially, Renzi’s gambit looks like it’s going to work. The Democratic Party national leadership backed Renzi’s plan almost unanimously after a meeting earlier Thursday, where Renzi argued that the party must ‘uscire dalla palude‘ (‘get out of the swamp’) to effect change in Italy.
Letta will resign as prime minister tomorrow.
As a formal matter, Italian president Giorgio Napolitano will consult with the leaders of all of Italy’s political parties about forming a new government, but the outcome seems almost certain. Renzi, at age 39, will become the youngest prime minister in Italian history, taking over essentially where Letta leaves off.
It’s an audacious and skilled move. It’s one part Giulio Andreotti (note Renzi’s mastery of internal PD politics). It’s one part Silvio Berlusconi (note Renzi’s mastery of the kind of political theater it takes to wage a successful campaign against your own party’s government). It’s also one part Michael Corelone — Renzi showed this week he has the ruthlessness to pull the trigger when it counts. (Can you imagine what British policy might look like today if former foreign minister David Miliband had the same instincts five years ago?)
Renzi expects to form a government that includes the Democratic Party, the centrist Scelta Civica (SC, Civic Choice), a group of reform-minded moderates that supported former prime minister Mario Monti, and the Nuovo Centrodestra (NCD, the ‘New Center-Right’), a breakaway faction from former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s rechristened Forza Italia. That’s the same coalition that Letta led, with the same strengths and shortcomings.
Renzi says he’ll seek a government through the end of the current parliamentary term, which ends in 2018. Continue reading Renzi brings down Letta government, expected to become PM