Italian Premier-designate Paolo Gentiloni succeeded in forming a new government on Monday, keeping key ministers from the coalition of fellow Democrat Matteo Renzi, who resigned last week.
Gentiloni said he would keep economist Pier Carlo Padoan as finance minister and continue Renzi’s strategy of trying to get Italy’s flat economy growing again. Also staying in government, but switching Cabinet posts, is Angelino Alfano, who will take Gentiloni’s foreign minister’s post.
In the outgoing government, Alfano was Renzi’s key non-Democrat coalition ally, dealing with anti-terrorism and migrant measures as interior minister.
A swearing-in ceremony was set for Monday night for both Gentiloni as prime minister and his new Cabinet.
Starting Tuesday, Gentiloni will begin pitching to lawmakers for the required confidence vote from Parliament on new governments.
“I did my best to form a government in the briefest of time,” Gentiloni told reporters at the Quirinal presidential palace.
On Sunday, President Sergio Matarella, head of state, asked Gentiloni to try to assemble a government that would prioritize electoral reform laws aimed at making Italy more governable ahead of new elections many political leaders are demanding soon.
Renzi left the helm of a nearly 3-yearlong center-left coalition government, after voters defeated a Dec. 4 constitutional referendum on which he had staked his job. Since then, populist forces, including Parliament’s largest opposition group, the 5-Star Movement, have been pressing for elections to be held far ahead of their spring 2018 due date.
Gentiloni said electoral reform would be a priority of his government.
Other priorities include efforts to help “the middle class, those suffering” economically, especially “in the south where (lack of) work is a greater-than-ever emergency,” Gentiloni said.
Youth unemployment is running at 36 percent, and as high as 50 percent in southern Italy.
Gentiloni’s picks for his Cabinet reflect his fellow Democrats’ concern that Renzi did poorly in Italy’s south in the recent referendum. The new premier chose a minister for the south, and his new minister for parliamentary matters hails from Sicily.
With the Gentiloni government largely resembling Renzi’s, opposition leaders will likely be energized in galvanizing citizen protest.
Just hours earlier, Matteo Salvini, who heads the anti-migrant Northern League, said he would hit the public squares in Palermo and Milan this weekend seeking signatures to “ask for elections immediately.”
Electoral laws — amended several times in recent years — are blamed for weakening Italy’s governability by making it harder for a clear majority to emerge from elections.
The current law has one set of electoral rules for the Senate and another for the lower Chamber of Deputies.
That’s because voters in the recent referendum rejected changes to make the Senate not directly elected.