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News Analysis: Hopeful business leaders taking wait-and-see attitude toward new Italian PM

English.news.cn   2014-02-27 08:24:08

by Eric J. Lyman

ROME, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- Matteo Renzi's program as Italy's new prime minister focuses on all the issues Italian companies would like it to. But business leaders are only cautiously optimistic about the 39-year-old former mayor of Florence, with many saying they will take a wait-and-see attitude toward his new government.

Renzi became Italy's youngest prime minister ever after a bitter power struggle with predecessor Enrico Letta.

The last week has been full of milestones for the new head of government: President Giorgio Napolitano gave him a mandate to form a new government, he selected his minister, and he faced and won confidence votes in both houses of parliament. Now he will start governing.

While heading the governments for the province of Florence and then the city itself, Renzi earned a reputation as a reformer and it appears he will stay true to his stripes as prime minister.

He has promised a series of reforms that will include the rules governing politics, tax policy, labor laws, and the country's bloated public administration.

Most observers would agree those are areas in dire need of attention.

"Now he must govern," Diego Della Valle, the billionaire head of leather goods and fashion companies Tod's. "I think we have to give him a few months before we evaluate him."

Oscar Farinetti, the founder of Eataly, a major promoter of Italian gastronomy, agreed.

"The time for giving advice is over,"Farinetti said, referring to Renzi's previous role as an outsider weighing in on the political issues of the day. "Now he must work, work, work."

The stakes are high, according to business leaders.

"Reni must save Italy," Farinetti said. "It must happen now, in the first two or three months. Otherwise, we're all in trouble."

Nuncio Dallari, president of the Chamber of Commerce for the region of Emilia Romagna, said: "If Renzi manages to keep his promises, then we should prepare him a king's crown."

It is clear the problems facing Renzi are difficult.

The country suffers from anemic economic growth, massive debt, waning consumer confidence, high taxes, a crippled expert sector, and restrictive labor laws.

In his favor, he does not lack confidence in himself, and he has strong public support and early reviews are that the team he built around him -- his 16-member Council of Ministers -- is a good one. But will that be enough?

"I think the consensus view is that Renzi is the best hope and if anyone can lead Italy out of the wilderness he's the man," said Gian Franco Gallo, a political affairs analyst. "But that doesn't mean he'll be any more successful than his predecessors. The challenges are enormous."

Giorgio Squinzi, from the powerful Italian lobby group Confindustria, said the course of action Renzi should take is clear. But it's a question of making it work.

"These priorities are not a secret but we have to see how and if they are enacted," he said.

Editor: Yang Lina
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