NEWS » Italian Government post Renzi resignation

Italian Government post Renzi resignation

Outgoing Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni was given a mandate to form a new government by Italy’s head of state. The former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned after a 59%-41% defeat in the constitutional reform referendum held on the 4th of December. Although the constitutional amendment was defeated, the Italicum election law remains in force even if it currently covers just the lower house. According to president Mattarella the electoral law must be made consistent for the Lower House and the Senate. The Constitutional Court is set to rule on the Italicum law on January 24.


Mr Renzi attempted to change Italy's political system, strengthening central government and weakening the Senate, the upper house of parliament. According to his opponents, and by implication of the votes casted by most of the electorate, the reforms would have given the prime minister too much power. 

It has been claimed that the referendum was more than a vote on constitutional reform, it was widely regarded as a chance to reject establishment politics.


The Eurozone has feared for a financial crisis caused by the defeat in the Italian referendum, as Italy’s finances are fragile. Public debt is above 130% of GDP and the banks are laden with heavy loans.  


In the aftermath of the No vote two urgent tasks must be carried out: the up-keeping of economic stability and the rebuilding of the legitimacy of Italian institutions.

The president, Sergio Mattarella has resisted a hasty election. Populist 5-Star Movement (M5S), Italy's second-biggest party after the PD and the biggest party on the right, the anti-euro, anti-immigrant Northern League party, were insisting on a quick vote without a new government.

Mattarella's consultations on Italy's government crisis have just concluded and Gentiloni has been given a mandate to form a new government. The descendant of a noble family, and a former communications minister, Gentiloni can count on the support of the Democratic Party, the biggest in parliament. He is expected to make only a few changes to the government, with Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan staying on. Potential new foreign minister candidates include outgoing Culture Minister Dario Franceschini and Economic Development Minister Carlo Calenda.

Gentiloni promised that, if his appointment is confirmed, he intends to work on a new electoral law. Mainstream parties fear that an automatic majority, attributed to the leading party in the lower house, could benefit the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, therefore they want to change the current  law. 

Opposition parties denounced Gentiloni’s appointment as taking no account of the result of the December 4 referendum. 


Italy has had 65 governments since the end of the second world war. It has had three prime ministers since Silvio Berlusconi’s government in 2011—Mario Monti (he served 17 months), Enrico Letta (ten months) and Mr Renzi (33 months). All were put into office through presidential crisis-management, not by voters.

Giulia Lombardo

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