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Italian foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni to be named Prime Minister

Italian foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni asked by president Sergio Mattarella to replace Matteo Renzi as Italy's Prime Minister

11 December 2016, 1:55pm
Italian foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni is set to replace Matteo Renzi as Prime Minister
Italian foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni is set to replace Matteo Renzi as Prime Minister
Italian foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni is set to replace Matteo Renzi as the country’s Prime Minister after he was asked to form a government by Italy’s president.

After three days of consultation with all parliamentary leaders, president Sergio Mattarella summoned Gentiloni to the presidential palace in Rome for a meeting.

Mattarella on Saturday expressed his desire to pick a new Prime Minister quickly, saying that Italy needed a “fully functional government within a short timeframe” so as to meet its domestic, European and international commitments.

“In the coming hours, I will evaluate what has emerged from these discussions and will take the necessary initiatives for the solution of the government crisis,” Mattarella told the press.

The development could signal a quick resolution to a government crisis that was triggered last week by the resignation of Matteo Renzi in the wake of a stinging defeat in last Sunday’s referendum on constitutional reform that he had thrown his weight behind.

Gentiloni, 62, enjoys wide support within the ruling centre-left Democratic Party, and also has a good relationship with former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as a result of his stint as communications minister in the mid-2000s.

Gentiloni joined Renzi’s Cabinet as foreign minister in October 2014 after Federica Mogherini stepped down to become the EU’s foreign policy chief. He has spearheaded Italy’s efforts to gather international support for a solution to the Libyan crisis.

If Gentiloni accepts Mattarella’s call, he will start consultations with other political parties to form his Cabinet and a new government will be sworn in. The new Prime Minister and Cabinet will then be required to win confidence votes in each of Italy’s two parliamentary chambers, a process that could be concluded before Thursday.