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News Analysis: New Italian PM Renzi's leadership to be put to the test

English.news.cn   2014-02-24 23:45:02

by Eric J. Lyman

ROME, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- As Matteo Renzi moves from the process of becoming prime minister to actually governing, observers who have followed his career closely say his experience as an effective mayor of a mid-sized city may present some growing pains as he moves into his new job.

The 39-year-old Renzi was the mayor of Florence, Italy's ninth-largest city, before getting involved in national politics and eventually emerging as Italy's new prime minister. In Florence, he earned mostly positive marks for efficiency and transparency, and he deftly used the position as a springboard to the national stage.

But without a background in parliament, experts say Renzi may lack the relationships that would make it easier for him to pass legislation that does not already enjoy broad support. And his leadership style, while it does not lack vision, can be difficult to put into practice.

"He (Renzi) is very intelligent and quite often by the time others have come up with and idea, it's something he already thought of," said Paolo Marcolisi, author of an acclaimed biography of Renzi called "Matteo The Great Communicator: The History and Ascension of Matteo Renzi."

"But at the same time, he is very single-minded and can be difficult to work with," Marcolisi said. "He can find the solutions to difficult problems. But putting them into force can be more difficult."

After accepting Enrico Letta's resignation from the office of prime minister on Feb. 14, President Giorgio Napolitano asked Renzi soon after to try to form a government.

Renzi presented his 16 ministers -- the cabinet has eight women in it, more than any government that came before it -- on Friday and took his oath Saturday. He will face his first confidence vote later Monday, and if he passes, as expected, the task of governing will start soon.

When that happens, the challenges he will face are enormous: stagnant economic growth, low consumer confidence, massive national debt, a bloated public sector and an unstable political system.

But polls show Italians are putting their faith in the charismatic Renzi to tackle the problems effectively, and he has set an ambitious timetable for himself to start making changes.

"Hope are very high that Renzi will be able to make a real dent in some of the country's most serious problems," said Maria Rossi, co-director of the polling firm Opinioni. "Say what you want about Renzi but it's clear that much of the country is watching him with baited breath."

Regardless of his success over the long haul, many believe Renzi's ascension will prove transformational in Italy.

"This is the start of a sweeping generational change," said Franco Pavoncello, president of Rome's John Cabot University and a regular commentator of political issues. "This will usher in the 40-something generation that will dramatically change the political landscape, at least in terms of new faces."

Marcolisi, author of the Renzi biography, agreed: "Renzi is a natural leader. He may not be in the strongest situation, but it will be a very bad sign if Renzi tries and fails. If someone can do it, he's the one."

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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