Italy's new Renzi government is also young

Matteo Renzi became Italy’s youngest premier on Saturday, promising a new era of stable government after using old-school politicking to engineer the ouster of a fellow Democrat he deemed too timid to get the nation back to work.

Chief challenge for his broad coalition is the ailing economy, only just beginning to show signs of rebounding after several years of stagnation and with youth unemployment hovering around at 40 per cent. The unabashedly ambitious Mr. Renzi, 39, quit his post as Florence mayor to take up his first national government job.

Mr. Renzi tweeted before being sworn in that it be “tough” but “we’ll do it.”

The usual easy-going Enrico Letta gave Mr. Renzi a chilly, limp handshake during a handover ceremony that lasted some 20 seconds. Mr. Letta didn’t smile at his betrayer, who forced a wan smile, and neither Democrat looked each other in the eyes.

Democrats are the main coalition partner. Mr. Renzi’s coalition also depends on smaller parties ranging from centre-right to centre-left which were part of Mr. Letta’s oft-bickering 10-month-old coalition.

Some centrists indicated they might not back Mr. Renzi in parliament after his new Cabinet left out their only minister, who had held the defense post. In a surprise move, Mr. Renzi also purged veteran politician Emma Bonino, a staunchly pro-Europe foreign minister.

In his rush to become premier, Mr. Renzi has said little about Italy’s relationship with the European Union, except to say overemphasis on austerity measures ordered by Brussels would discourage economic revival.

One of the few non-political appointees, Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan, missed the swearing-in. Mr. Padoan, until now the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development’s chief economist, was in Australia when tapped on Friday.

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