Renzi Seen Wavering on Resignation Vow as Italy Seeks Stability

  • Senior official says premier could reconsider offer to quit
  • President Mattarella favors Renzi staying on for stability

What You Need to Know About Italy's Anti-EU Movement

Matteo Renzi is wavering on whether to stay on as Italian prime minister despite offering his resignation after Sunday’s referendum defeat, according to a senior state official.

President Sergio Mattarella wants Renzi to reconsider his decision in order to provide political and economic stability, said the official, who asked not to be named because the issue is confidential.

Renzi, 41, could decide to remain in power to push through electoral reform ahead of early elections in the first few months of next year, the official said. The prime minister may offer more clues to his thinking in a speech to the leadership of his Democratic Party at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in Rome. The next scheduled elections aren’t until early 2018.

After losing Sunday’s referendum on constitutional reform, Renzi announced his plans to step down in a televised address. Mattarella asked him to put the resignation on hold at least until the Senate gave final approval for the 2017 budget, which it did on Wednesday afternoon.

With Mattarella due to begin talks with leading political figures as early as Thursday, Renzi’s defeat has triggered speculation in Italy about his plans and the shape of the next government. The premier may discuss the prospects for a grand coalition government or an early election in his speech to his party, Ansa news agency reported, without citing anyone.

Confidence Vote

If Renzi decides to stay on, Mattarella would ask him to go before both houses of parliament for a vote of confidence to guarantee he has a majority, the official said. If the premier does quit, a new government would aim for electoral reform before an election in early 2017, he said.

Mainstream parties want to change the electoral law because in its present form it gives an automatic majority to the leading party and they fear the winner could be the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which wants a referendum on whether to leave euro.

The threat of political instability clouds prospects for Italy’s troubled banks, especially Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA which is trying to complete a 5 billion-euro ($5.4 billion) capital increase. Earlier on Wednesday, Treasury spokesman Roberto Basso denied a report in newspaper La Stampa that Italy is preparing to request 15 billion euros from the European Stability Mechanism to support the country’s struggling lenders.

Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan is a prime contender to succeed Renzi. Other candidates include Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Transport Minister Graziano Delrio, Culture Minister Dario Franceschini and Senate Speaker Pietro Grasso.

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