|Newly appointed Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi speaks during a press conference after talking with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in Quirinale Palace in Rome, Italy, on Feb. 21, 2014. After three days of consultations and reflection, Italy's center-left leader Matteo Renzi on Friday formally accepted the position of prime minister and presented his cabinet list to President Giorgio Napolitano. (Xinhua/Xu Nizhi)
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by Marzia De Giuli
ROME, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- After three days of consultations and reflection, Italy's center-left leader Matteo Renzi on Friday formally accepted the position of prime minister and presented his cabinet list to President Giorgio Napolitano, signaling his resolution to speed up tough reforms for the crisis-hit country.
Renzi's coalition government had 16 ministers, half of which were women for the first time in Italy's history. The team had five fewer members compared with the outgoing government of Enrico Letta and was mainly composed by politicians from Renzi's Democratic Party (PD), the largest group in parliament.
The only technical figure was chief economist of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Pier Carlo Padoan who was named the economy minister, the most watched position to assuage concerns of international investors about the Italian troubled economy.
Three of Letta's ministers kept their posts, namely Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, the leader of the junior government partner New Center Right (NCD), Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Maurizio Lupi and Minister of Health Beatrice Lorenzin.
The new government would be supported by the same political forces as the Letta's one with NCD and minor centrist parties in the majority, and the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement (M5S) and the center-right Forza Italia (FI) party of three-time prime minister Silvio Berlusconi in the opposition.
"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 brief news conference after talks with Napolitano.
"Many of us are wagering our reputation in this government," he stressed.
"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 has outlined a challenging program of key reforms to revive the Italian economy days after he ousted his predecessor and PD fellow Letta blaming his government for slowness in dealing with persisting economic crisis.
Though the Italian economy has shown signs of improvement, recovery was late on arrival. Elevated jobless rate, rising labor costs and weak domestic demand have hurt competitiveness in the country, which is the second most indebted in the European Union (EU) after Greece.
Analysts said political stability was now fundamental to fuel upswing, and the first two months of the Renzi government will be "decisive" to understand whether the coalition will be able to hold to the prime minister's ambitious commitments.
If Renzi wins confidence vote in the two chambers of parliament, expected on Monday and Tuesday, the 39-year-old "demolition man" would become the youngest-ever prime minister in Italy. He would also be the third straight unelected prime minister since the end of 2011 after Letta and Mario Monti.
Born in Florence, Renzi was elected the mayor of his hometown in 2009 and became the top leader of PD at the end of last year. He has campaigned strongly to put aside the senescent ruling class and has promised a turning point for Italy.
"First of all, the new prime minister will have to restore trust to citizens who need dynamism and rapidity to end Italy's 20-year-old paralysis," said Federico Gelli, a PD lawmaker.
"Renzi was the first ever premier-designate to present a detailed program for the next three months soon after being asked by the president to form a government. If things go well, the next national vote could be in 2018, at the natural end of the parliamentary term," he noted.
Renzi said earlier this week that his government will work on constitutional reforms in February, including a new voting law and simplification of the political system, before switching to labor reforms in March, public-administration reforms in April and fiscal reforms in May.