The 39-year-old Renzi has named a low-profile list of ministers
which included no figures capable of challenging his control of the
government. Its success or failure will be seen as his
With an average age of under 48, the 16-member cabinet is one of the
smallest and youngest in recent Italian history. Half its members
are women, the largest proportion ever, underlining the image of a
fresh start on which Renzi has built his reputation.
But he faces a huge challenge with the euro zone's third largest
economy struggling to emerge from its worst slump since World War
Two, weighed down by a 2 trillion euro public debt and an industrial
base that has crumbled over the past decade.
"The responsibility is enormous and this must not fail," said Rocco
Palombella, secretary general of the UILM union. "If it does, there
will be no appeal," he said.
The new prime minister has laid out an ambitious agenda for his
first months in office, promising a sweeping overhaul of the
electoral and constitutional system to give Italy more stable
governments in future and reforms to the labor and tax systems and
the bloated public administration.
Renzi, who won the leadership of the center-left Democratic Party
only in December, forced his party rival Enrico Letta to resign last
week after criticizing his failure to move quickly on economic
However, the unwieldy coalition with the small center-right NCD
party on which he will depend for a majority remains unchanged from
the one which backed Letta. He also faces a fractious parliament
which has proved difficult for successive governments to control.
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Media commentators and opposition politicians were also quick to
point to similarities between the new and old governments — five
ministers have remained in the cabinet and another, Graziano Delrio,
has become Renzi's chief of staff.
The oldest member of the cabinet, 64-year-old Economy Minister Pier
Carlo Padoan, will play a key role in maintaining the confidence of
partners ranging from the European Central Bank to foreign
The other main economic ministers, Industry Minister Federica Guidi,
a former official at employers' association Confindustria, and Labor
Minister Giuliano Poletti, former head of the cooperative
association Legacoop, will face pressure on industrial policy.
Among the new government's priorities will be cutting taxes on
business and easing strict labor market rules that deter employers
from taking on new staff, but in both cases it will be bound by
Italy's European Union partners have made clear they are unwilling
to give the new government room to breach tight borrowing limits
while unions have opposed moves to loosen strict hiring and firing
(Reporting by James Mackenzie; editing by Philiip Pullella and Sonya
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