by Marzia De Giuli
ROME, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta made a flash announcement to resign on Thursday after his own Democratic Party voted for government change and speedier reforms, paving the way for the party's leader Matteo Renzi to take over.
Renzi announced to withdraw support for Letta at a much-awaited party assembly, saying a new government was the only option left for the much-needed reforms. The party approved government change with 136 votes to 16.
Later Thursday, Letta announced that he would tender his resignation to President Giorgio Napolitano on Friday following the decision of his party. It will be up to Napolitano to mandate a new government, as provided for in the Constitution.
"Until Saturday, Renzi had put the re-launch of the Letta government in first place. What made him change his mind remains a mystery to many," said Sebastiano Messina, a political commentator at la Repubblica newspaper.
"The facts of the last hours, however, showed that the two men had a personal incompatibility that impeded a collaboration," he told Xinhua.
For weeks Renzi, the 39-year-old ambitious mayor of Florence, had been piling pressure on Letta, 47. But he had always denied speculation of a government reshuffle or power handover.
"He changed his mind when he found himself in a cul-de-sac,"said Peter Gomez, co-founder and columnist of Il Fatto Quotidiano newspaper.
"The Letta government was having difficulties in introducing the reforms, and Renzi risked to pay for his party fellow's failure," Gomez told Xinhua.
Unemployment in Italy has climbed to its highest level in 40 years and its economy has shrunk by 9 percent in seven years. Whether the upcoming Renzi-led government, which is likely to be supported by Letta's same coalition, would manage to do meaningful reforms is a "real question," said Gomez.
Angelino Alfano, the leader of the center-right group that split from former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's party and shares power in government with the center-left Democratic Party, said he will say yes to the birth of a new government on condition that Renzi will consider his political allies' positions.
The opposition party of Berlusconi Forza Italia also called on the upcoming government to respect the deal with it on the proposed electoral law. The agreement on reforms with Berlusconi could be a wild card for the Renzi government, Messina said.
Though being ineligible under an anti-corruption law following his definitive tax fraud conviction, Berlusconi was still leading Forza Italia behind the curtain.
There was a possibility, however, that the minor parties in the coalition would support the Renzi government until 2018, Gomez noted. Renzi's move to govern Italy for the next four years was a "hope" as well as a "bet," he stressed.
Italy centre-left party leader asks for a new gov't
ROME, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Italy's centre-left Democratic Party (PD) asked for an urgent change of government to give a boost to reforms on Thursday, in a decision that could trigger the resignation of Prime Minister Enrico Letta.
"The Democratic Party asks for a change of government," PD leader Matteo Renzi said during a live-streamed crisis meeting the party leadership group held in Rome.Full story
News Analysis: Letta-Renzi showdown holds Italy's political future in balance
ROME, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- A change of government could be in the cards after attempts at reaching a political detente between Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta and Florence mayor center-left leader Matteo Renzi failed to yield any progress.
The increasingly acrimonious relationship between the two men is unusual because they are members of the same political party. But Renzi's rising political star and the deadlock that has crippled the Letta government's ability to pass meaningful reform have set up the possibility of a kind of negotiated change in government not seen in Italy in decades.Full story