Prime Minister Letta's resignation: What next for Italy?

Ask the Expert transcript:

Can Matteo Renzi succeed where Enrico Letta has failed? Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta has resigned. What will happen next?

Enrico Colombatto: Today, at this very moment, Letta has gone to see President Giorgio Napolitano with a list of ministers. For the past 24-hours there has been a line outside Renzi’s office of potential ministers – everyone is eager to jump on the winning boat or winning candidate.

We’ll see what happens next.

Nobody has voted for him so far, apart from two million left-wingers that elected him as secretary of the party. By the way, he has declined to resign as secretary of the party so he will have both seats. And he has some four to five months to persuade people that, even that no-one voted for him, he’s the right man for the right moment for this country.

He doesn’t have much time, and he does not have a plan, or at least the plan has not been published yet.

People are eager to see what’s going to happen, what he’s got on his mind and how long it’s going to take for him to implement it.

Recent polls showed that over 80 per cent of the population did not want Renzi to replace Letta. How will these events be received by the electorate?

Enrico Colombatto: Yes, that’s correct. The electorate is just watching, they’re not enthused. They’re saying that ‘we know that Letta was ineffective, but how can you be more effective than Letta if you have the same parliament as Letta has behind him?’

So, let’s wait and see – but public opinion won’t give him much time, and Berlusconi is just waiting for Renzo to sink to the bottom if he fails to deliver.

Can Renzi succeed?

Enrico Colombatto: He can. But the point is, his hardcore parliamentary majority are the same people who voted for the old guard about a year ago. So either they’re switching sides rapidly – and that is possible – or they’re raising the price for their consensus, and if they do so Renzi will go to the bottom.

So he can make it, but its not going to be an easy ride.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel for Italian politics?

Enrico Colombatto: No, not at all. What Renzi must be doing is massive deregulation, lower taxation, reform the judiciary – and that’s not something that’s going to happen, in my view, in the next three months. He can start taking off, but there’s no light at the end of the tunnel so far, and Renzi is aware of that.

To his credit, it must be said that he realises that Letta was not the man to take us out of the tunnel. Of course, he believes he can be the man, but there is no evidence for this so far.

LETTA'S RESIGNATION

  • Enrico Letta was ousted in a vote on February 13 called by Matteo Renzi at a meeting of their centre-left Democratic Party (PD).
  • Mr Letta had, in effect, been sacked by his own party. The PD backed Mr Renzi.
  • Florence mayor Matteo Renzi, 39, is expected to be offered the chance to become Italian prime minister, as talks begin on forming a new government.
  • A new government should take over until the end of the current parliamentary term in 2018, said Mr Renzi.
  • Mr Renzi had accused Mr Letta of failing to improve Italy's economic situation. Unemployment in Italy is at its highest level in 40 years and the economy has been shrinking.
  • Mr Renzi was elected in December 2013 as leader of the centre-left PD, Italy's most powerful political organisation.
  • Mr Letta, 47, only lasted 10 months as prime minister after forming a coalition government with the centre-right in 2013.
  • Matteo Renzi could be Italy's third prime minister since Silvio Berlusconi resigned in November 2011.