Italy’s new PM, cabinet ministers sworn in

Rome, Feb 22: Italy’s new Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his cabinet ministers were sworn in Saturday by President Giorgio Napolitano, starting their task of accelerating reforms and reviving the troubled economy.

The coalition government formed by the leader of center-left Democratic Party (PD), the largest party in parliament, comprises 16 ministers, mainly from the centre-left political circle, including eight women, more than ever, Xinhua reported.

The 39-year-old “demolition man”, who had campaigned to put aside the senescent political class, became the youngest ever prime minister in Italy with the youngest cabinet, which has an average age of 47.8.

Renzi said after the swearing-in ceremony that his team was ready to start work Saturday to do the things that need doing straight away. He said the new government has the chance to achieve reforms that have not be done for years and “the country has no alternative”.

Key appointees include Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan, a former economics professor in Rome who has been deputy secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) since June 2007, and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, the leader of the junior government partner New Center Right (NCD). Padoan could not take part in the ceremony as he had to return to Italy from meetings of the G20 in Sydney, Australia.

Three ministers of the former government led by Enrico Letta kept their posts, namely Alfano, Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Maurizio Lupi and Minister of Health Beatrice Lorenzin.

Renzi’s government would be supported by the same political parties as the Letta’s one with NCD and minor centrist parties in the majority, and the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement (M5S) and the centre-right Forza Italia (FI) party of three-time prime minister Silvio Berlusconi in the opposition.

The government is expected to win confidence vote in the two chambers of parliament from Monday. Renzi has expressed hope that his cabinet could stay in power until the natural end of the parliamentary term in 2018.

“I will do my best to gain the confidence of the president and of the millions of Italians who are awaiting for concrete answers from this government,” Renzi told a news conference after talks with Napolitano.

“The cabinet has broad characteristics of novelty. The imprint of Renzi was evident in the many new names of people who became ministers for the first time,” Napolitano told journalists.

Renzi said earlier this week that his government would start to work on constitutional reforms in February, including a new voting law and simplification of the political system, before switching to labour reforms in March, public-administration reforms in April and fiscal reforms in May.