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Italian new gov't gets green light from parliament

English.news.cn   2014-02-26 08:11:10

by Marzia De Giuli

ROME, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) -- Italy's new coalition government on Tuesday got the green light from parliament, winning the second of two confidence votes that gave full powers to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his team to start working on promised reforms.

"Italy has this only chance," the 39-year-old leader of the largest party in parliament, the center-left Democratic Party (PD), repeated as he sought confidence of the Senate and lower chamber in a two-day marathon.

The urgency of necessary reforms, he said, had left no space for further loss of time.

Less than three months have passed since Renzi was elected as the PD secretary and started blaming his predecessor Enrico Letta, who used to be the party deputy head, for his slowness in addressing persisting economic crisis.

Days ago, Renzi called a meeting of PD leadership to oust Letta and replace him at the helm of Italy, supported by his same left-right coalition.

The PD formed the ruling alliance with the New Center Right (NCD) led by Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, a former ally of three-time premier Silvio Berlusconi, whose center-right Forza Italia (FI) was in the opposition along with the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement (M5S).

Renzi, who defined himself as the "demolition man" of senescent politicians, presented in his first speech in parliament on Monday a program of structural reforms that he has pledged to introduce "immediately" and that analysts have defined as "hugely ambitious."

The commitment to reduce income and labor taxes by more than 10 billion euros (13.7 billion U.S. dollars) and pay all government debts to private companies were among the most crucial moves in a country where nearly 135,000 small businesses were reported to have gone bankrupt since 2008.

Among the promised institutional reforms, which were equally important in order to simplify heavy bureaucracy, there were reduction of the number of lawmakers, abolition of the Senate's lawmaking power and introduction of a new electoral law to produce more stable governments.

Renzi said that his team will achieve the reform targets over the next four months, before Italy takes the European Union (EU)'s rotating presidency for the second half of 2014.

"If we lose this challenge, it will be my fault entirely, there will be no excuse," said the youngest-ever prime minister in Italy leading the youngest-ever government.

In his view, Italy must give a "fundamental contribution" to the EU because "without Italy there is no Europe."

Renzi's first foreign visit as Italian prime minister next week will be Tunis, in the heart of the Mediterranean sea that Italy hopes "will once again be central," he said on Tuesday.

The opposition parties were very skeptical, however, that Renzi will be able to quickly replace the slow-moving Italian system with the dream efficient one.

"Renzi presented a very thick agenda, but the point is whether he has the strength to put his program in place," Francesco Verderami, a political columnist at Corriere della Sera newspaper, said.

"Economists have estimated that tens of billions are necessary for Renzi's proposed reforms, but he did not illustrate where his government will find the fundings," Verderami noted, adding that "if Renzi is able to make one third of the things he has promised, it would already be a revolution for Italy."

Verderami agreed with other experts, however, that citizens were putting their faith in the new prime minister to tackle the challenging problems of their country, including stagnant economy, massive public debt, low consumer confidence, unstable political system, effectively.

Many hoped that Renzi, who used to be the mayor of Florence where he earned mostly positive opinions, could launch in government the new model of "Mayor of Italy" based on efficiency and transparency.

Renzi has also drawn attention to himself because of his informal habits and clothes.

"In fact Renzi was not dialoguing with the political world but with citizens," Federico Geremicca, a political commentator at La Stampa newspaper, noted.

"Undoubtedly he outlined a very ambitious program and Italians will have to evaluate him based on facts, starting from tomorrow," he said.

Renzi said he would begin visiting schools across Italy on Wednesday, starting what he defined his first "gigantic battle" to improve education because cultivating new generations, he stressed, was the basilar step for the future of Italy.

Editor: Zhu Ningzhu
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